3 years ago

Protecting an adult identity: A grounded theory of supportive care for young adults recently diagnosed with cancer

For adolescents and young adults living in high-income countries cancer remains the most common disease-related death. Increasing survival rates and projected longevity are positive outcomes, although long-term consequences of cancer and/or its treatment will likely increase the global burden of cancer. In low and middle-income countries the impact and needs of young adults with cancer are largely unknown and require further attention. However, universal studies have revealed that cancer-related needs for this group are multifactorial, complex and largely unmet. In response to these findings, the body of work on supportive care for young adults with cancer is growing. Yet, there is no published research in the context of the United Kingdom, regarding the role young adults play in managing their supportive cancer care needs. Objective To explore the experience, purpose and meaning of supportive cancer care to young adults recently diagnosed with cancer. Design, setting and participants Using constructivist grounded theory, data were collected in one to one interviews with eleven young adults (seven women and four men aged 19–24 years) being treated for cancer in two English hospitals. Data were analyzed using open and focused coding, constant comparison, theoretical coding and memoing, and this enabled construction of a subjective theory. Results Young adults in this study interpreted cancer as an interruption to the events, experiences and tasks forming the biographical work of their adult identity. Data analysis led to the construction of the theory, ‘protecting an adult identity: self in relation to a diagnosis of cancer in young adulthood’. This theory arose from three categories: fragility of self, maintaining self in an altered reality and mobilizing external resources. Young adults faced the loss of their early adult identity. Interpreting cancer as a temporary interruption, they sought to re-establish their identity by directly and indirectly managing their supportive care needs. Conclusions These findings contribute to the understanding of young adults’ desired purpose of supportive cancer care. There are also implications for how health and social care professionals provide supportive care interventions to meet the needs of this population.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S002074891830021X

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