Our aim was to describe voluntary associations for patients with cancer in Sweden (n=108) and their activities, type and extent of member support, and the associations' collaboration with the health care system. A specially constructed questionnaire with structured and open questions was used for the investigation. The frequency of answers was 89%. The results show in the broadest sense that the associations have two missions. The direct patient-related mission concerns providing patients with support in the form of close proximity, approachability and through distribution of knowledge together with financial and practical support; the indirect patient-related mission deals with activities aimed at improving conditions for patients in general within the health care system and by influencing authorities as well as supporting family members and significant others and providing financing. The associations collaborate with the health care system, although they face difficulties in becoming 'sanctioned' and in establishing positive relationships with the health care community. The associations display a positive attitude towards their cause and the personal gratification that the voluntary work brings. In general, the findings indicate that the associations have a potential to help patients live and cope with their cancer disease.
- Cancer och onkologi