The perspectives of health professionals on the psychosocial impact of an altered appearance among adolescents treated for cancer and how to improve appearance-related care

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Williamson, H. ; Rumsey, N. (2017)

An altered appearance can impact on the psychosocial well-being of adolescent cancer patients, yet patient reports imply a dearth of appearance-related support. Using a two-phase qualitatively driven mixed methods design, 62 health professionals from a range of UK oncology care settings, provided data relating to their views of the impact of appearance changes on adolescent patients (aged 12-18 years), of delivering appearance-related care, and their training needs. Integrated findings were divided into two main outcomes. The first comprises health professionals’ perceptions of the psychosocial and behavioural impacts of appearance-related distress in their patients and their experiences of interventions that prevent or ameliorate appearance concern. The second illustrates personal barriers (among health professionals, adolescents and parents) and organisational barriers that inhibit the delivery of appearance-related support, together with suggestions about how these may be overcome. The needs of patients are extensive and varied, but due to the barriers identified can be poorly addressed. Nonetheless some practitioners are utilising a variety of interventions supported by theory and/or evidence of their success in other clinical areas. Recommendations are made for the content, design and co-ordination of interventions for adolescents and for the content of education programmes to meet the training needs identified by participants.
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