The literature suggests that adolescents have little meaningful involvement in their consultations with health care practitioners. Evidence suggests that the communication needs of young people with cancer are rarely met, Essig et al (2016). Health care professionals frequently report that young people are among the hardest patients to interview Anneloes (2011).The abstract suggests that this failure may be linked to the challenges within effective professional communication, triadic consultations, transitional life stage of this age group and partnership working.

The crucial stage of adolescence will undoubtedly create complex communication challenges. Complicated by a cancer diagnosis, the potential loss of independence can create regression in a time of detachment. This tension creates overwhelming conflict.


The young person must be heard – it is their cancer and their journey and communication needs to foster a partnership which allows shared decision making. Several strategies that promote enhanced communication with young people will be proffered, e.g. skills to successfully acknowledge and negotiate a third person, likely a parent (triadic communication),  significance of making eye contact and talking with the young person alone to name a few.


Establishing how to communicate effectively with TYA must be a research priority in order to inform the development of meaningful skills training (Taylor et al 2016) for all those involved in the delivery of care to young people with cancer so that they are really heard and have meaningful involvement in their care.


Health care professionals need skills to effectively navigate these challenges, to gain rapport with young people with cancer, to build a relationship enabling the foundations to successful communication.


Critoph, D and Cable, M

University of Coventry