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  • Publication
    Bridging the Gap Between Knowing and Understanding the Psychosocial Needs of Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer (AYACs): An Exploration of the Nature and Experience of these Needs
    (University College Dublin. School of Psychology, 2022) ;
    0000-0002-2478-0457
    Adolescents and young adults with cancer (AYACs) have become recognised as a unique group in recent years. They differ in their biological, social and psychological experience of cancer compared to other groups. The unique developmental context and related challenges of being a young person with a cancer diagnosis can lead to a distinct and diverse set of psychosocial issues for this group. Existing research has attempted to explore these psychosocial needs and challenges and to develop appropriate and individualised interventions. However, the psychosocial needs of this group remain unmet, with ongoing calls for individualised supports for this group. This thesis sought to explore the psychosocial needs of AYACs across two empirical studies. The first study was a systematic review of the literature exploring the psychosocial needs of AYACs (22 papers included). The findings of this study provided an overview of the constellation of psychosocial needs of AYACs from the existing literature. The second empirical study adopted a qualitative approach to explore the experience of psychosocial needs of AYACs from their own perspective (n=5). The findings showed that AYACs experience a myriad of needs that appear to change over time and are impacted by factors such as stereotypes and individual contexts. Together, these two studies provided a well-rounded exploration of what the psychosocial needs of AYACs are and offered an in-depth understanding of these needs. The combined findings supported the idea of a changing constellation of psychosocial needs for AYACs in areas such as identity, relationships, mental health and autonomy and the idea that these vary according to a number of individual factors. The thesis considered the results of these studies in the context of existing literature. The main implications of the findings for clinical services, theory and future research included, for example, the role of clinical psychology, the importance of the developmental context and consideration of AYACs as individuals. These implications highlight the unique and important contribution of this research to the existing research in the area.
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