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Research finds identifies social needs of young people with cancer
Date:5/9/2013

ty expressed a need to meet peer survivors. Those who were not in a support group, had a high number of symptoms or additional illnesses, as well as low perceived quality of care also needed more help.

"Our findings identify subgroups of adolescents and young adults who are most in need of additional social support and suggest targets for clinical intervention," notes Dr. Wu.

Research has shown that cancer may limit these young patients' ability to form new or maintain relationships at a time in their development when peer bonding is the norm. Even when the patient's support network is strong, current friends may not be able to meet psychosocial needs because they do not understand the problems that come with a cancer diagnosis and treatment, further isolating the patient. Existing resources may be unknown, out of their financial reach, or not relevant to these young people.

Suggested interventions include the development of programs capable of providing support at different phases of the cancer experience, providing services for a diverse age range, overcoming geographic and financial barriers and a lack of cultural diversity in the offerings, as well as increasing awareness and access to peer support groups with other cancer patients and survivors. Improving awareness of and access to online connection through social media, as well as help in learning how to share their experiences with loved ones would also bolster support. The researchers say that developing communication tools specifically for them may help these young patients express their needs and gain emotional support from their family and friends. It is also important to educate health care professionals and others about these resources.

"With limited research in this area, understanding which subgroups of adolescents and young adults with cancer are most in need and what they perceive their greatest needs to be is critically important to tailor interventions and support programs fo
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Contact: Leslie Capo
lcapo@lsuhsc.edu
504-568-4806
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center
Source:Eurekalert

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