The role of social support in adolescent/young adults coping with cancer treatment

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24 Scopus citations


Adolescents/young-adult (AYA) cancer patients are a psychosocially at-risk group as they are often less well-studied than other age cancer cohorts. Therefore, they experience disparities in access to developmentally informed treatment. Social support has been determined as an important aspect of AYAs’ cancer experience, but additional research was needed to describe specific behaviors AYAs found helpful and to explore how AYAs seek opportunities for additional support. As part of a larger qualitative study, study aims were to determine how AYAs (ages 15–26) cope during cancer treatment and examine how social support interacts with individual AYA coping. Participants included 10 AYA cancer patients undergoing treatment (mean age = 18.9 years) and 10 parents (mean age = 45.6 years). Descriptively, participants scored within the normal to high range on measures of hope, depression/anxiety/stress, quality of life, and social support. Participants completed semi-structured, audio-recorded interviews that were transcribed and coded as generated. Qualitative analysis was guided by principles of grounded theory and utilized the constant comparative approach. Themes within social support groups included presence, distraction, positive attitude, and maintaining AYA autonomy, communication, and advocacy. Results suggest social supports provide additional coping resources for AYAs with cancer through supplementing individual coping strategies. Future directions/implications for intervention/treatment are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Adolescent/Young Adult (AYA)
  • Cancer
  • On-treatment
  • Qualitative
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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