A multidimensional scale to measure the reproductive concerns of young adult female cancer survivors
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Concerns about fertility and parenthood are important to many young adult (YA) female cancer survivors and are associated with poorer quality of life. We aimed to develop a new scale to comprehensively measure these concerns so that they can be better addressed.
Scale development involved: (1) seven focus groups to identify reproductive concerns among YA female cancer survivors and develop potential scale items followed by pilot testing and cognitive interviews to refine items, (2) administering surveys to 204 YA female survivors and conducting principal components analysis (PCA) with oblique rotation to identify underlying factors in the multidimensional scale, and (3) identification of preliminary construct validity evidence.
We subjected 37 potential scale items to PCA, which indicated a six-factor solution. After removing low-loading and cross-loading items, we selected the three top loading items representing each factor. The 18-item Reproductive Concerns After Cancer scale (α = 0.82) assesses concerns about fertility potential, partner disclosure, child’s health, personal health, acceptance, and becoming pregnant. As hypothesized, women who wanted to have a baby (p < 0.001) and those for whom having a biological child was very important (p < 0.05) had higher mean scores, indicating higher concerns.
The scale demonstrated good internal consistency and evidence of construct validity and holds promise for future clinical and research applications.
Implications for Cancer Survivors
An effective tool to identify concerns related to fertility and parenthood is essential for meeting the long-term reproductive health needs of young women who have survived cancer.