Research snapshots

Our research snapshots are based on the findings of our research into the needs of young people living with cancer. These snapshots provide insight into the needs of young people living with cancer and provide recommendations for the types of support that young people might need.

This research snapshot presents the results of research undertaken with young people who have, or have had cancer. The snapshot pays particular attention to ‘time since treatment’, exploring differences in needs between 3 groups of participants: those who were still on, or within 1 year of, treatment; those who were between 1 and 5 years since treatment; and, those who were beyond 5 years since treatment.

Perhaps the most striking finding in this snapshot is that the average number of unmet needs was roughly equal across all 3 ‘time since treatment’ groups. In other words, those whose treatment was 5 or more years ago still reported the same number of unmet needs as those whose treatment occurred less than a year ago or was still going; however the areas of need differed. This finding highlights the importance of ongoing support and follow-up of young people who have had cancer, even 5 years or more after their treatment.

This research snapshot presents the results of research undertaken with young people who have a sibling with cancer. Peer support from one’s friends and from other young people who have been through a similar experience with cancer, were very highly ranked needs in this study. The Peer Support (friends) domain was found to be the most unmet of all 10 domains, informing one of the major recommendations of this study which is for the investigation and development of practical ways to improve the quality of support that friends can offer young people who have a sibling with cancer. The single most unmet need item overall was the need for ‘help with the fear that my sibling might die’, which also highlights the importance of professional counselling and emotional support for young people who have a sibling with cancer.

This research snapshot presents the results of research undertaken with young people who have a parent with cancer. A notable finding of the study is the elevated levels of psychological distress in many of the participants, as measured by the widely-used psychological functioning measures, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), and the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS). Also found were strong correlations between higher levels of unmet need and higher scores of psychological distress.

Recommendations of this study included the need to ensure greater access to professional counselling to assist the young person in expressing and coping with their feelings. The domains identified in this report also helped form the basis of CanTeen’s ‘Now What…?’ resource for young people who have a parent with cancer.

This research snapshot presents the results of research undertaken with young people who have lost a parent or sibling to cancer. The need for more support and understanding from others, such as friends, family, teachers and employers, was one of the most prominent needs identified in this study. Many of the bereaved young people in this study reported feeling that others didn’t properly understand what they were going through, thus highlighting the need to improve education about how to support a young person who has lost a family member to cancer.