Impact of Childhood Cancer on Emerging Adult Survivors' Romantic Relationships: A Qualitative Account
Article first published online: 11 OCT 2012
© 2012 International Society for Sexual Medicine
The Journal of Sexual Medicine
Special Issue: Cancer Survivorship and Sexual Health
Volume 10, Issue Supplement S1, pages 65–73, February 2013
How to Cite
Thompson, A. L., Long, K. A. and Marsland, A. L. (2013), Impact of Childhood Cancer on Emerging Adult Survivors' Romantic Relationships: A Qualitative Account. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 10: 65–73. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02950.x
- Issue published online: 6 FEB 2013
- Article first published online: 11 OCT 2012
- Romantic Relationships;
- Childhood Cancer;
- Emerging Adulthood;
- Genital Self-Image and Cancer;
- Quality of Life and Childhood Cancer
Introduction. Research focusing on the long-term sequelae of diagnosis and treatment for childhood cancer suggests that although the majority of survivors are not at increased risk for psychopathology, many experience persistent problems in other domains that greatly affect quality of life (QoL). One such domain is social functioning. To date, little is known about the impact of childhood cancer on social functioning and related QoL during emerging adulthood, the developmental period that spans the late teens and early twenties and is characterized, in part, by explorations in love and romantic relationships.
Aim. To document emerging adult survivors' perceptions of their romantic relationships through a descriptive qualitative study.
Main Outcome Measures. Recurrent themes from interviews were extracted via qualitative content-based analysis.
Methods. Eighteen female survivors of childhood cancer, ages 18–25, participated in a phone interview focused on past and present romantic partnerships.
Results. Themes from coded transcripts included redefined life priorities and perspective, concerns with disclosure of cancer history and emotions, negative body image as a result of illness and treatment side effects, and worries about fertility and health of future children. Survivors related these concerns to their histories of childhood cancer and discussed the impact on the development and maintenance of romantic relationships.
Conclusions. Overall, survivors reported a number of relationship concerns that have the potential to interfere with their ability to move toward emotional and physical intimacy in relationships, a key task of emerging adulthood. These findings suggest a number of testable hypotheses for future research, have the potential to inform the construction of new measures that more accurately evaluate social functioning of childhood cancer survivors, and emphasize the importance of ongoing assessment by health care providers of developmentally salient issues like love/romance. Thompson AL, Long KA, and Marsland AL. Impact of childhood cancer on emerging adult survivors' romantic relationships: A qualitative account. J Sex Med **;**:**–**.