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New strategies to ensure good patient–physician communication when treating adolescents and young adults with cancer: the proposed model of the Milan Youth Project

Authors Chiara Magni M, Veneroni L, Clerici C, Proserpio T, Sironi G, Casanova M, Chiaravalli S, Massimino M, Ferrari A

Received 26 April 2015

Accepted for publication 14 June 2015

Published 24 August 2015 Volume 2015:5 Pages 63—73

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/COAYA.S60916

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Mark Kieran


Video abstract presented by MC Magni and G Sironi.

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Maria Chiara Magni,1 Laura Veneroni,1 Carlo Alfredo Clerici,2 Tullio Proserpio,3 Giovanna Sironi,1 Michela Casanova,1 Stefano Chiaravalli,1 Maura Massimino,1 Andrea Ferrari1

1Pediatric Oncology Unit, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale Tumori, Milan, Italy; 2Department of Pathophysiology and Transplantation, University of Milan, Milan, Italy; 3Pastoral Care Unit, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale Tumori, Milan, Italy

Abstract: Adolescence is a particularly complex time of life, entailing physiological, psychological, and social changes that further the individual's cognitive, emotional, and social growth. Being diagnosed with cancer at this time can have important consequences on an individual's emotional and physical development, and adolescent and young adult cancer patients have particular medical and psychosocial needs. Patient–physician communications are important in any clinical relationship, but fundamental in the oncological sphere because their quality can affect the patient–physician relationship, the therapeutic alliance, and patient compliance. A major challenge when dealing with adolescent and young adult patients lies in striking the right balance between their need and right to understand their disease, treatment, and prognosis, and the need for them to remain hopeful and to protect their emotional sensitivity. We herein describe the activities of the Youth Project of the Istituto Nazionale Tumori in Milan, Italy in order to share a possible model of interaction with these special patients and the tactics our group has identified to help them communicate and share their thoughts. This model implies not only the involvement of a multidisciplinary team, including psychologists and spirituality experts, but also the constitution of dedicated creative activities to give patients the opportunity to express feelings they would otherwise never feel at ease putting into words. These efforts seek the goal to minimize the potentially traumatic impact of disease on the patient's psychological well-being. Our group focused also on communication using modern media as vehicles of information, eg, integrating the use of social networks in the involvement of patients in adolescent- and young adult-dedicated activities and uploading informative videos on YouTube.

Keywords: relationship, teenagers, psychology, spirituality, art, social network

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