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Symptom self-management strategies reported by adolescents and young adults with cancer receiving chemotherapy

Journal title
Supportive care in cancer : official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer
Publication year
Linder, L. A.; Erickson, J. M.; Stegenga, K.; Macpherson, C. F.; Wawrzynski, S.; Wilson, C.; Ameringer, S.

PURPOSE: Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer experience multiple symptoms related to their cancer and its treatment which can negatively impact their development and quality of life. An understanding of the strategies AYAs use to self-manage their symptoms is limited. This study described symptom self-management strategies reported by AYAs with cancer using an iPad-based symptom heuristics tool, the Computerized Symptom Capture Tool. METHODS: The study used a cross-sectional, descriptive design. AYAs’ free text responses relating their symptom self-management strategies were explored using qualitative content analysis procedures. Strategies were examined overall and by individual symptoms. RESULTS: Seventy-two AYAs 13-29 years of age (mean 18.4 years) reported a total of 772 symptom self-management codes for 585 individual symptoms. These codes were organized into 119 distinct categories. These categories were further organized into 16 subthemes and 3 overarching themes: "Things I Take … or Not" (n = 209 codes), "Physical Care Things I Do" (n = 367 codes), and "Psychosocial Care Things I Do" (n = 132 codes). AYAs frequently reported strategies from all three of the symptom self-management themes to manage individual symptoms; however, "medications" was the most frequently reported strategy. CONCLUSION: AYAs receiving chemotherapy use multiple common, yet uniquely individual symptom self-management strategies. AYAs’ reported strategies range from those that involve shared management with a healthcare provider to those that AYAs implement independently. The study provides a foundation for future research to empower AYAs to engage in symptom self-management and to guide healthcare providers as they discuss developmentally relevant and evidence-based symptom self-management strategies.

Research abstracts