Younger Cancer Patients' Psychosocial Needs Unmet

Findings worse among adolescents and young adults treated in adult care settings

WEDNESDAY, July 25 (HealthDay News) -- Substantial proportions of adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer patients are not getting their psychosocial needs met, particularly in adult care settings, according to a study published in a supplement to the May 15 issue of Cancer.

Brad J. Zebrack, Ph.D., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues assessed 215 AYA cancer patients (aged 14 to 39 years) for use of information resources, emotional support services, and practical support services.

The researchers found that AYAs aged 20 to 29 years were significantly less likely to report using professional mental health services than teens and older patients (aged 30 to 39 years). AYAs 20 to 29 years of age also were significantly more likely to report an unmet need with regard to cancer information, infertility information, and diet/nutrition information. AYAs who were treated in adult facilities were more likely to report an unmet need for age-appropriate Internet sites, professional mental health services, camp/retreats programs, transportation assistance, and complementary and alternative health services, compared with teens who were treated in pediatric facilities.

"Substantial proportions of AYAs are not getting their psychosocial care needs met," the authors write. "Bolstering psychosocial support staff and patient referral to community-based social service agencies and reputable Internet resources may enhance care and improve quality of life for AYAs."

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