Introduction

Having identified the prevalence of emotional problems amongst teenagers and young adults (TYA) with cancer, CLIC Sargent set about trying to understand more about the sources of support accessed by TYA and what they found most beneficial.

Method

Scoping workshops were held with CLIC Sargent’s Young Person’s Reference Group and Social and Community workers to develop questionnaires and interview schedules. 5 semi-structured interviews were conducted with TYA across the UK. An online survey was completed by 149 TYA aged 16-30. Freedom of Information (FOI) requests were sent to all Hospital Trusts and Health Boards in the UK regarding Wi-Fi provision for patients and visitors.

Results

59% of TYA we surveyed accessed formal supports (CLIC Sargent social workers, Counsellors and Psychologists) and the majority (87%) found these helpful. Less formal sources of support were also mentioned. Keeping in touch with family and friends (80%), talking to others with similar experiences (73%) and access to the internet whilst in hospital (72%) were frequently cited as things that helped TYA cope during treatment.    

Discussion

A diagnosis of cancer has both physical and mental impacts on TYA and the supports available to patients and their families should reflect this. Currently, a lack of information, poor availability of services and cost are barriers to TYA accessing mental health support. Informal sources of support are also helpful during treatment. Given the importance to TYA of maintaining connections with the outside world, it is concerning that only 60% of Trusts in England provided free Wi-Fi.

Authors

Clare Laxton, Helen Gravestock, Caroline Weston, Sonia Malik, Anna Carnegie, Priyanka Patel, Jeanette Hawkins, Tracy Cosgrave

CLIC Sargent, London