Factors Affecting Adolescents' Willingness to Communicate Symptoms During Cancer Treatment: A Systematic Review from the Children's Oncology Group.

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DOI: 10.1089/jayao.2018.0111; PMCID: PMC6939582


The purpose of this systematic review is to (1) synthesize evidence facilitators and barriers affecting adolescent willingness to communicate symptoms to health care providers (HCPs) and (2) create practice recommendations. The PICOT (Population, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome, Time) question guiding the review was, among adolescents with cancer, what factors affect their willingness to communicate symptoms to HCPs? Three databases, PubMed, CINAHL, and PsychINFO, were searched using keywords from the PICOT question. Inclusion criteria included original research studies with samples of at least 51% adolescents aged 10-18 years who were receiving or had received cancer treatment. Studies were included that evaluated outcomes related to willingness to communicate in general as well as communication of specific treatment symptoms. Exclusion criteria included systematic reviews and publications emphasizing cancer screening, cancer prevention, survivorship, or decision making. A total of 11 studies were included in the systematic review. Two of the studies focused on symptom communication; the remaining nine studies focused on general communication or the overlap between general and symptom communication. Barriers to symptom and/or general communication included negative expectations, health-related uncertainty, ambiguousness with assessments, unfamiliarity, restriction of information, perceived negative provider characteristics/behaviors, adolescent circumstance, worry about others' perceptions, and provider approach. Facilitators to symptom and/or general communication included open communication, perceived favorable provider characteristics/behaviors, seasoned adolescent, and patient-provider rapport. Five practice recommendations were developed from the evidence that supports general and symptom communication between adolescents who are receiving or have completed cancer treatment and their HCPs.

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J Adolesc Young Adult Oncol





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MeSH Keywords

Adolescent; Adolescent Behavior; Child; Communication; Health Personnel; Humans; Neoplasms; Stress, Psychological; Symptom Assessment


adolescents; barriers; cancer; facilitators; symptom communication

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