The psychosocial needs of young people who have, or have had, cancer
Authors: Dr Pandora Patterson & Brett Millar
A wide range of psychosocial needs were investigated based on the self-reporting of 112 young people (12-24yrs) at various stages of treatment for, and recovery from, cancer. Using an early version of Shakeshaft and colleagues’ (2006) Cancer Needs Questionnaire for Young People, the domains of Relationships, Emotional/Psychological, Information, Structure of Care, Process of Care, Daily Living and School/Occupational, were found to vary significantly in their unmetness, depending on time-since-treatment. For those currently on or within 1 year since treatment, Structure of Care, Information and Emotional/Psychological, were the most unmet domains. For those between 1 and 5 years since treatment, the most unmet were Emotional/Psychological, Relationships and Structure of Care. Finally, for those beyond 5 years since treatment, the most unmet were Emotional/Psychological and School/Occupational and Relationships. This research highlights the importance of considering time-since-treatment as a highly informative factor in estimating the unmet needs of young people with cancer. Different stages of treatment and recovery involve different psychosocial needs, and thus, service delivery and interventions must take into account each young person’s time-since-treatment, in order to most effectively target their unmet needs. The degree of unmetness across all 3 groups urges health care providers and all members of a young person’s support network to remember that various needs persist in both salience and unmetness well beyond the treatment period. Various Information and Structure of Care needs were still substantially unmet for those beyond 1 year since treatment, and an alarming number of Emotional/Psychological needs remain unmet even beyond 5 years since treatment. This underscores the importance of long-term follow-up and support for young people recovering from cancer. Also it was found that females reported more needs as unmet than males, and 18-24 year olds reported more unmet Information needs than 12-17 year olds. Correlations were also found between unmet needs and psychological difficulties in 12-17 year olds females, and unmet needs and anxiety for 18-24 year olds.