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Adolescents and young adults with cancer: aspects of adherence – a questionnaire study

Authors Kleinke AM, Classen CF

Received 12 December 2017

Accepted for publication 23 February 2018

Published 1 May 2018 Volume 2018:9 Pages 77—85

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/AHMT.S159623

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Cristina Weinberg

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Alastair Sutcliffe

Anne Marie Kleinke, Carl Friedrich Classen

Oncology and Hematology Unit, Children’s Hospital, University Medicine Rostock, Rostock, Germany

Purpose: For adolescents and young adults (AYAs), a cancer diagnosis represents an extraordinary strike in a vulnerable phase of life. They have special needs that the medical system has to take into consideration, and they exhibit a lower degree of therapy adherence than both older and younger patients. The purpose of this study was first to analyze the adherence of AYAs with cancer compared to a group of older patients and, second, to determine correlated parameters, with focus on the psychosocial interaction between physicians and patients.
Patients and methods: In 2012, a complete 1 year cohort of patients reported, by use of a questionnaire, to the Rostock clinical cancer registry, and a group of older patients were invited to answer a multi-item set of questionnaires on a volunteer basis, leading to a population-based cross-sectional analysis. This included a bias due to non-answering which is unavoidable in such a setting. The questionnaire consisted of well-established standard questionnaires, a questionnaire on adherence that has just recently been published, and a self-written questionnaire focusing on patient–physician relationship. The responses were analyzed for our current study.
Results: Gender, religion, education, age, anxiety, family atmosphere, or physician–patient relationship were not significantly correlated to adherence in AYAs. However, markedly more AYAs, as compared to the older patients group, considered breaking off therapy and reported suboptimal communication with the physicians. Only the perceived physical illness could be identified as a factor related to adherence among the AYA group.
Conclusion: Our findings confirm the need for more focused approaches to serve the special needs of AYAs, with particular attention on specific items that showed up discriminating AYAs from older patients, that is, Internet use and communication with physicians. Here, further research is needed to examine adherence to specific treatment protocols.

Keywords: adherence, adolescents and young adults, special needs, psychosocial interaction
 

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