Developing a new instrument to assess the impact of cancer in young adult survivors of childhood cancer
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Thirty years of psychosocial oncology research have detailed issues having significant impact in both pediatric and adult populations; yet, few studies have captured the subtle and unique ways in which cancer impacts, disrupts and in some instances promotes the growth and development of adolescents and young adults with a cancer history. This paper reports the initiation of an effort to assess the impact of cancer in this young survivor population through the development of a new Impact of Cancer (IOC) instrument.
64 young adults aged 18–39 years and treated for a pediatric malignancy participated in face-to-face interviews and responded to questions prompting them to describe the impact of cancer on their physical, psychological, social and spiritual/existential well-being. Intent of analysis was to organize data into meaningful sub-categories from which to develop a set of candidate survey items that assess a range of problems, issues and changes that long-term survivors ascribe to their cancer experience.
A total of 82 candidate survey items represented content across 11 topical domains including Body, Health and Body image, Treatment and Health Care, Having Children, Identity, Talking and Thinking About Cancer, Meaning of Cancer, Memory and Thinking, Finances, Family and Relationships, Socializing, and Life Goals.
Assessing the instrument’s psychometric properties in a large representative group of young cancer survivors is the next step for further development of such a measure. Once established, a valid and reliable Impact of Cancer instrument has the potential for identifying salient survivorship issues in a clinical setting.