Younger Cancer Patients' Psychosocial Needs Unmet

(HealthDay News) – Substantial proportions of adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer patients are not getting their psychosocial needs met, particularly in adult care settings.

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

The researchers found that AYAs aged 20–29 years were significantly less likely to report using professional mental health services than teens and older patients (aged 30–39 years). AYAs 20–29 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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