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Do Australian adolescents’ and young adults’ experiences of cancer care influence their quality of life?

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Skaczkowski, G.; White, V.; Thompson, K.; Bibby, H.; Coory, M.; Pinkerton, R.; Orme, L. M.; Conyers, R.; Phillips, M. B.; Osborn, M.; Harrup, R.; Anazodo, A.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the relationship between the cancer care experiences of adolescents and young adults (AYAs) and their quality of life. METHODS: Two hundred and nine AYAs completed a cross-sectional, self-report survey distributed through the population-based cancer registries in 2 Australian states (New South Wales and Victoria). Eligible AYAs were 15 to 24 years old when diagnosed with any cancer (excluding early-stage melanoma) and were 3 to 24 months post-diagnosis. Questions examined whether particular care experiences occurred for the patient at different points in the cancer care pathway, including diagnosis, treatment, inpatient care, and at the end of treatment. Quality of life was assessed using the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General scale. RESULTS: Positive experiences of care at diagnosis, during treatment, during inpatient stays, and when finishing treatment were associated with higher functional, emotional, and social well-being. However, these associations generally became nonsignificant when communication and support experiences were included in the model. Inpatient experiences positively influenced emotional well-being over and above the effect of communication and support experiences. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that, for most AYAs’ quality of life outcomes, positive experiences of age-appropriate communication and emotional support may underpin the effect of positive experiences of care throughout the cancer care pathway. The results support the need for communication and support tailored to an AYA audience, as recognised by recent Australian and international guidelines on the care of AYAs with cancer.

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