Supporting healthy psychosocial survivorship for AYA patients entails more than monitoring and responding to the physical late-effects of treatment. It involves educating, informing and supporting patients to move beyond their treatment phase and adjust to life after cancer.
To help facilitate this, we developed an Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Psychosocial Survivorship Care Process, which includes an age-specific Survivorship Screening Tool and Survivorship Care Plan. The aim of this package is to improve the care provided to survivors of AYA cancer by the early identification of the potential difficulties associated with psychosocial recovery and post-treatment functioning, and to provide a structure for addressing these.
The Survivorship Screening Tool is a detailed, check-box style questionnaire, exploring the psychosocial domains which AYA cancer patients frequently identify as being problematic when they transition to the post-treatment phase. These include distress secondary to physical changes, friendships, existential processing, intimate relationships, independence, family, fertility, concentration and memory, education, finances, and others. The screening tool also incorporates an overall measure of distress, and an opportunity for patients to identify their goals, as well as topics that they would like more information about. The Survivorship Care Plan assists the clinician to collate the psychosocial issues identified in the screening tool by their patient as being important, and to collaboratively develop an individualised plan to address these issues.
The AYA Psychosocial Survivorship Care Process was developed in collaboration with AYA cancer survivors, who participated in an initial focus group and formed a working party to provide ongoing guidance, and Australian AYA cancer clinicians, from the fields of nursing, social work, psychology, haematology / oncology and late-effects. Piloting of the package has begun in South Australia and Victoria.
It is hoped that by incorporating this newly developed AYA Psychosocial Survivorship Care Process into routine AYA patient management throughout Australia, all young survivors of cancer will receive a minimum standard of psychosocial survivorship care – regardless of their treatment location.