The need for Online Support Systems for Young Cancer Survivors

Teenage and young adult cancer survivors can end up feeling isolated and abandoned at the end of treatment. Few UK studies have described the ongoing emotional and psychological support needed and the potential pitfalls of not providing this to young people at this time. CU’s Dr. Louise Moody et al, have delved into the web-based solutions to this issue.

As the population of young cancer survivors increase, as does the need to provide post-treatment support. With worries about the future, body image, self-esteem, losing friends, fertility and fatigue weighing heavily on the psyche of these young people, the advantage of a round-the-clock accessible platform is one that would make a lot of sense.

As the majority of young population typically spend a lot of their time online in some format or another, a web-based self-management system could prove a useful and prevalent tool. Giving them the access to reliable and trustworthy information all in one place, as well as the ability to communicate with health care professionals and other young adults going through similar experiences is one of great benefit.

The importance of sharing feelings was a major factor found by this study. The need for face-to-face interaction is still very much necessary, and arguable preferable to most. As this cannot be received on daily basis, especially with other sufferers, the opportunity to network with those in similar situations is possibly one of the greatest assets using the system could have.

All stakeholders involved were supportive of web-based self-management and the continued interaction with clinical staff could really help young people. However, it is noted that keeping, particularly this part of the service going long-term would be challenging.

Ultimately, Moody et el’s mixed methods approach brings to attention the use of technology and how implementation could potentially work for the NHS. If used successfully, use of the systems would not only benefit the young cancer survivors, but also health professionals in better understanding what it is these individuals go through.

To read the full research paper, click here.



Ryan Walker