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Int J Qual Stud Health Well-being. 2017 Dec;12(1):1325699. doi: 10.1080/17482631.2017.1325699.

Connecting with healthcare providers at diagnosis: adolescent/young adult cancer survivors' perspectives.

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a Department of Science Nursing Care , Indiana University School of Nursing , Indianapolis , IN , USA.
b Division of Healthcare of Women and Children , Duke University School of Nursing , Durham , North Carolina , United States.
c Department of Internal Medicine , Indiana University, School of Medicine Indianapolis , IN United States.


Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer are a vulnerable and underserved population. AYAs' cancer survivorship is complicated by physical and psychosocial late effects which requires long-term follow-up. Connectedness with healthcare providers (HCPs) is a protective factor that may improve long-term follow-up behaviours of AYAs. However, little is known about AYAs' experiences connecting with HCPs. The purpose of this study was to describe AYA cancer survivors' experiences connecting with HCPs. This empirical phenomenological study interviewed nine AYA cancer survivors diagnosed during adolescence. Individual interviews were conducted and analysed using an adapted Colaizzi approach. The essential structure reveals that AYAs begin their experience of connectedness with a sense of disconnectedness prior to treatment. The diagnosis is a period of confusion and emotional turmoil that interfere with the AYAs' ability to connect. When AYAs come to accept their illness and gain familiarity with the environment, they then put forth an effort to connect with HCPs. Although it takes time for AYAs to reciprocate efforts to connect, HCPs should be aware that AYAs carefully assess and make judgments about whether or not HCPs can be trusted. Findings raise awareness of the actions and behaviours of HCPs that hinder connectedness, and targeted in future research.


Adolescents; cancer; communication; connectedness; survivors; young adults

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