Psychological Health Similar for Young Cancer Survivors, Peers

However, adolescent and young adult survivors of pediatric cancers report less positive health beliefs
By A. Agrawal, PhD
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- Adolescent and young adult survivors of childhood cancers generally report good psychological adjustment but less positive health beliefs, according to a study published online March 15 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Anne E. Kazak, Ph.D., from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues surveyed 167 adolescent and young adult pediatric cancer survivors and 170 matched controls (without a history of serious illness) regarding psychosocial outcomes and the effect of age at diagnosis, cancer treatment intensity, and number of health problems on these outcomes.

The researchers found that survivors and controls had similar levels of psychological distress and health-related quality of life, while survivors had less positive health beliefs. Patients diagnosed during adolescence had significantly greater psychological distress and fewer positive health beliefs, while greater treatment intensity was associated with greater anxiety and fewer positive health beliefs. Patients' report of their health problems was significantly associated with most psychosocial outcomes and beliefs, in contrast to their providers, which associated health problems with survivors' beliefs and mental health-related quality of life.

"Thus, while most survivors are psychologically resilient, disease-related variables readily known to care providers can help to identify the significant minority of those at risk for difficulties with psychosocial functioning and less competent health beliefs," Kazak and colleagues conclude. "Identifying and providing interventions to this minority group of adolescent and young adult patients is critical for facilitating optimal transition to adulthood and adult-oriented care."

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