Social Support Is Biggest Determinant of Life Satisfaction for Adolescents With Cancer

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For this LS-related study, researchers assessed the outcomes of 514 young patients, aged 18 to 39, with malignant cancer.
For this LS-related study, researchers assessed the outcomes of 514 young patients, aged 18 to 39, with malignant cancer.

Social support may be an important factor associated with life satisfaction (LS) for adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer, according to a study published in Cancer.

As survival outcomes continue to improve among young adults, continued quality of life (QOL) is of growing interest. Previous studies have shown that a cancer diagnosis during this sensitive developmental period in life can limit physical, psychological, and psychosocial development, and may lead reduced QOL. There is a paucity of data, however, evaluating the longitudinal effects of a cancer diagnosis in this patient population.

For this study, researchers assessed the outcomes of 514 young patients, aged 18 to 39, with malignant cancer. Life satisfaction was assessed using the Questions on Life Satisfaction (FLZ-M), which evaluated 10 subdomains at baseline and at a 12-month follow-up: friends/acquaintances, leisure activities/hobbies, health, income/financial security, work/profession, housing situation, family life, children/family planning, partnership, and sexuality. Psychosocial effects and the amount of social support patients had available were also assessed.

Results showed that LS, as assessed by the LFZ-M global score, significantly improved in 5 subdomains between baseline and follow-up with small effect sizes: global LS, income/financial security, work/profession, health, and leisure activities. At both evaluation periods, patients were most satisfied with housing situation, family life, and friends/acquaintances. 

At baseline, participants were least satisfied with income/financial security, children/family planning, and work/profession, and at follow-up reported being the least satisfied with sexuality, children/family planning, and income/financial security.

The subdomains with the least amount of improvement were financial and professional situation, as well as family planning and sexuality.

Positive associations with life satisfaction were found at baseline with 3 groups of variables: sociodemographic, medical, and psychosocial variables. Only psychosocial variables, such as positive social support, less detrimental interactions, and lower perceived adjustment to disease, were the most important to improving life satisfaction at follow-up. No medical variables or sociodemographic variables (excluding partnership) were significantly associated with improved life satisfaction.

The authors concluded that “oncologists need to be keenly aware that social support and how an AYA patient with cancer processes the experience of being ill have far greater importance for their LS than sociodemographic or medical factors. The focus of future research should be expanded to include additional parameters such as coping and self‐efficacy and empowerment in AYAs.”

Reference

Leuteritz K, Friedrich M, Sender A, Nowe E, Stoebel-Richter Y, Geue K. Life satisfaction in young adults with cancer and the role of sociodemographic, medical, and psychosocial factors: results of a longitudinal study [published online September 10, 2018]. Cancer. doi: 10.1002/cncr.31659

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