BALANCE: Promoting wellbeing in adolescent and young adult cancer survivors

For adolescents and young adults (AYAs, 15-25yrs) who have finished cancer treatment, it can be hard to know where or how to start improving their wellbeing. Wellbeing is complex, and can include everything from dealing with ongoing physical effects and feelings about cancer, to negotiating changing relationships, or focusing on exercise and nutrition.

The BALANCE project aims to develop and evaluate an online lifestyle intervention to support AYAs who have completed active cancer treatment. This will cover physical, psychological and social components of wellbeing, including coping and emotional wellness; restoring, adapting and optimising physical functioning; sexual and reproductive health; lifestyle and identity concerns; and relationships and support.

The intervention is being co-designed with AYAs who have completed cancer treatment and clinicians who work with them. Using co-design ensures that the intervention is relevant, engaging, and meeting the needs of the population.

The BALANCE project is being run by researchers from the University of Queensland (UQ), Canteen, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and the University of Technology of Sydney (UTS), led by Professor Alexandra McCarthy. The project is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), supported by Canteen, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Queensland Children’s Hospital and Sydney Children’s Hospital. 

To date, a series of workshops have been conducted with the Canteen Youth Advisory Team to elicit their visions of the intervention, explore factors which might support or prevent them from engaging, and get feedback on our drafts of the intervention. The research team is currently developing an outline of the proposed intervention design and content, and will then test and retest the intervention with AYAs and clinicians to ensure that the final intervention is relevant, engaging, feasible and effective.