The 3-Phase Process in the Cancer Experience of Adolescents and Young Adults

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid



When confronted with cancer, adolescents and young adults (AYAs) enter a psychosocial trajectory. Previous research has acknowledged the importance of care adjusted to the specific needs of AYAs. To develop AYA-focused care, in-depth knowledge about the experiences of AYAs with cancer is necessary.


The purposes of this study were to discover the psychosocial experiences of and their meanings for AYAs enduring cancer, as well as its treatment and follow-up, and to capture the basic social psychological process that shaped these experiences.


This was a qualitative study in which individual semistructured interviews were conducted with 23 participants aged 15 to 25 years.


A 3-phase process was identified, which demonstrated alterations in the AYAs’ experiences and their underlying meanings: (1) maintaining normal life was essential, (2) normal life was slipping away, and (3) evolving toward a new normal life after treatment. Certain core dynamics were present in these 3 phases. Throughout the cancer trajectory, the AYAs attempted to maintain control, redefine the self, and incorporate their cancer experience to the long-term course of life and had varying expectations of their social networks.


Understanding the process that AYAs with cancer go through and taking into account their experiences can facilitate better psychosocial care for this emotionally vulnerable population.

Implications for Practice:

Healthcare professionals need to take a patient-centered approach, with a focus on communication, to meet the needs of AYAs throughout the cancer trajectory.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles