Establishment of therapeutic relationships with AYA right from the start is critical to establish trust, and to engage AYA and relevant family members in decision making and participation in treatment.
The complex decisions around treatment may place additional stress on the AYA and their family. The SCN can play an important role in enhancing the clinical information provided, in correcting misunderstandings and in helping the AYA and their family to source further information if needed to assist their treatment decision.
Effective communication and information provision for the AYA and family is vital. Points to remember when communicating with children and adolescents about their cancer include:23
- communicating about cancer with children and adolescents may help them understand the disease and its treatment and enable them to cope better with their cancer
- children and adolescents face many issues and may benefit from greater opportunities to talk to health professionals
- concerns about their illness and its treatment can result in psychological, behavioural and developmental problems for AYA
- educational programs may benefit adolescents with cancer when individual factors such as age, level of understanding and medical condition have been considered.
AYA have unique medical and psychosocial needs. Improved health outcomes may be achieved through an understanding of the impact of cancer and its treatment on AYA development, including social and emotional wellbeing.
Regular psychosocial assessment and screening have been recommended as methods to identify preventable at risk behaviours and mental health concerns. Interventions such as referral to provide preventative counselling and anticipatory guidance can then be initiated to improve psychosocial outcomes.24
- Summarise strategies to improve communication with AYA diagnosed with cancer.
- Discuss how the SCN can implement these points in clinical practice.
Access examples of AYA assessment tools in the following documents:
Practice framework for working with 15-25 year old cancer patients(PDF, 1.03MB)13
Psychosocial assessment for adolescents and young adults with cancer24
- Discuss the extent to which the tools adequately assess the specific needs of a person diagnosed with and receiving treatment for osteosarcoma.
- Compare the extent to which current assessment tools in your workplace adequately assess the supportive care needs of AYA affected by cancer.
Justin’s story 2: dealing with diagnosis
Consider the immediate practical and emotional needs of Justin's family:
- If Justin lived outside the metropolitan region, outline the accommodation and support services available for him and his family.
- Identify potential social and financial impacts on the family.
- Outline possible responses to meet the family's spiritual needs.
- Discuss specific issues that might be experienced by Justin's 10-year-old sibling. Outline support available for siblings.
Discuss the supportive care options available to Justin at this time. Consider your health care facility resources and external groups and networks which an SCN may refer Justin to.