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Keywords:

  • cancer;
  • adolescents;
  • qualitative;
  • benefit finding;
  • post-traumatic growth;
  • control

WICKS L., & MITCHELL A. (2010) European Journal of Cancer Care The adolescent cancer experience: loss of control and benefit finding

Developmental goals of adolescence include attaining confidence in independent decision making and a positive image of the self, others and surrounding world. A diagnosis of cancer during adolescence has the potential to impact on successful achievement of these goals. This study examined the ‘adolescent cancer experience’ from the perspective of young people. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 young people (16–22 years old) who had been diagnosed with cancer during adolescence. Thematic analysis of interview transcripts revealed two latent themes: loss of control and benefit finding. Adolescents reported that feelings of loss of control resulted in a sense of frustration, feelings of inadequacy and anger, and non-compliance with treatment. Perceived benefits of cancer experiences included improved personal attributes, strengthened relationships and material gains. These themes have not previously been well described in this population. The findings underline the need for effective communication, ongoing psychological support and service flexibility when providing care for adolescents with cancer.