Development and evaluation of a support program for prostate cancer survivors in Alaska

BACKGROUND - Prostate cancer survivors in Alaska and elsewhere have unmet support needs. The Men's Prostate Cancer Survivorship Retreat, or "men's retreat," was developed targeting Alaska Native and non-Native men who were survivors of prostate cancer.

The program brought together survivors in a supportive environment to discuss and share their experiences.

OBJECTIVE - Despite the proven effectiveness of support groups for improving quality of life for cancer patients, men typically do not participate in formal support groups. This descriptive study was conducted to explore the needs of Alaska Native and non-Native prostate cancer survivors and assess satisfaction and acceptability of a men's cancer survivorship retreat in Alaska.

METHODS - Prostate cancer survivors (N=80) who attended men's retreats during 2009-2013 were asked to complete a retreat application and post-retreat evaluation. Comments regarding social support, helpful and valuable aspects of the retreat including overall satisfaction were reported.

RESULTS - A men's retreat with activities that engage men can be successful for prostate cancer survivors. Many men returned for successive retreats. After the retreat, 97% of the participants said they would continue with support activities.

CONCLUSIONS - The men's retreat provides a valued opportunity for men to interact with other survivors and access information from health professionals. The results from this study highlight a successful model for social support and resources specific to male prostate cancer survivors.

International journal of circumpolar health. 2015 Nov 25*** epublish ***

Stacy Kelley, Christine DeCourtney, Julia Thorsness

Community Health Services, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Anchorage, AK, USA; Community Health Services, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Anchorage, AK, USA. , State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Anchorage, AK, USA.