Information and service needs for young adult cancer patients
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Young adulthood is a time of increased vulnerability to stress and presents young adult cancer patients and off-treatment survivors with major developmental challenges above and beyond those faced by their peers. The intent of this study was to examine supportive care needs and preferences among young adult cancer patients.
Two hundred and seventeen young adults aged 18–40 years and diagnosed with cancer between the ages of 15–35 completed an online survey. Adapted from prior research on young adult survivors of childhood cancer, questions assessed the extent to which subjects had utilized various information and supportive care services and/or expressed a desire to use those services either now or in the past.
While young adult patients demonstrate a high demand for information and assistance regarding diet and nutrition, exercise, fertility options, complementary and alternative services and assistance with health insurance, 40–50% of patients report that these needs are unmet. More than 50% of respondents who indicated a need or desire for camp programs and retreats, counseling or guidance related to sexuality, counseling for family members, infertility treatment and adoption services, transportation assistance, child care and alcohol or drug abuse counseling also indicated that these needs were unmet. Younger respondents (18–29 years olds) were significantly more likely to indicate unmet needs for the supportive care services assessed here.
Findings serve as recommendations as to when and to whom to target delivery of supportive care services.
KeywordsYoung adult Needs assessment Cancer Psychosocial Support services
Thank you to the Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF) for their financial support, and to LRF staff members Ms Jennifer Mills, MSW and Ms Tammy Weitzmann, MSW for their contributions of time and effort to this work. Furthermore, the success of this project is also due to the efforts of Ms Jodi Sax, Dr Karen Albritton, MD, Dr Stuart Kaplan, MD, and the staff members of numerous cancer support organizations that directed respondents to the online survey. Finally, I would like to express appreciation to the 1,500 young adults who completed the online survey, and recognize the many “young adults” over the age of 39 who did not qualify for this study but wrote to us and expressed the need for research into how cancer has affected their lives as well.
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