Exploring the psychosocial needs of adolescents whose parent is suffering from breast cancer.
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Background: Cancer has a major effect on the individual patient and their family, especially their children. Adolescents who face parental cancer exhibit high scores in mental health problems as anxiety, stress and depression. Literature has focused on the impact of parental cancer in the well-being of children and young adults. However, little is known about the needs of adolescents whose parent is specifically suffering from breast cancer. Insights in the psychosocial needs are important in order to develop appropriate guidance and support for these adolescents. Aim: To explore psychosocial needs of adolescents whose parent is suffering from breast cancer to improve the support for these adolescents. Method: This is a prospective, exploratory, qualitative study, performed in the Erasmus MC Cancer Institute. In-depth interviews were conducted with adolescents whose parent suffers from breast cancer. An interview guide was designed with the following topics: experiences, needs and support. The participants were selected purposively and approached via the parent(s) after the regular consultation. Interviews were audio-taped, transcribed and thematically analysed using NVivo. Results: A wide variety of psychosocial needs were discussed and five themes were defined: distraction, support, being able to talk about it, information and, to continue the normal life. No differences in needs were found between adolescents with a parent in the curative and palliative phase. Conclusion: Adolescents whose parent suffers from breast cancer need the best possible preservation of their normal lives. It is important for them to be able to share their story and find support from someone close to them. Recommendations: Healthcare professionals need to pay attention to the well-being of adolescents whose parent suffers from breast cancer and invite these adolescents to regular consultations so they are able to ask their questions to the professional.