Recognition of the unique medical and psychosocial impacts of cancer on the long term health of adolescents and young adults (AYAs) is increasing. Services are developing in response and in alignment with acknowledgement of the importance of survivorship care. International guidelines have identified acute/primary partnerships and shared care as essential to the health and well being of survivors and ensure the most efficient allocation of healthcare resources [1-2]. However, for AYAs, a diagnosis of cancer is often the first presentation into the health sector. A lack of community healthcare engagement may place young people at risk and a significant burden on acute facilities to address a broad range of health concerns, both oncology related and not. Relationships between acute/community healthcare facilities are therefore essential to the wellbeing of AYA patients. However there is a dearth of research into AYA/GP engagement in Australia to date.
The aim of this project was to describe the extent to which AYAs (15-25y.o.) engage with GPs by the nature of the relationship and barriers to engagement.
AYA patients in Victoria were asked about their experiences in a retrospective online survey. Outcomes include a description of how young people engage with GPs, areas of health discussed and barriers to engagement.
The majority of AYAs surveyed had a relationship with a family GP and felt comfortable discussing general health. Sexual/mental health and relationship issues were not frequently addressed. Barriers to engagement included a lack of time, cost and inconsistency in care. These outcomes highlight the importance of acute/community partnerships to ensure that AYAs can address a broad range of health concerns during treatment and beyond. This has informed the development of Survivorship Connections, a project aiming to build such partnerships in Victoria by engaging youth friendly, local GPs in AYA survivorship care.