There is increasing awareness of the need for more targeted models of care for Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA). Young people with cancer have distinct clinical and psychosocial needs, which relate to variation in treatment settings (adult vs paediatric), treatment protocols and complexities with disease biology. In addition, issues relate to developmental and psychosocial maturity may interfere with treatment compliance, education, vocation, career and finances. However, AYA cancer has only recently been recognised as cancer sub-speciality, there are limited opportunities for education, and health professionals may not have the skills and experience in working with cancer patients in this age group. The aim of this study was to identify the learning needs of health professionals regarding AYA cancer, self-rated confidence, and changes over time.
We undertook a survey of educational needs of health professionals in 2013 at the commencement of the Queensland Youth Cancer Service. The survey was used to develop the education program for the state. The interprofessional education program was delivered using a variety of formats, covering a range of topics. The second survey was completed in 2017. Results were compared to identify changes in educational needs and self-rated confidence in providing AYA cancer care.
122 participants completed the first survey and 73 the second. The most prominent educational needs in 2013 were palliative care and biomedical topics such as adolescent growth and development, specific AYA cancers and treatment. The second survey identified palliative care education remained important, however there was a shift towards need for psychosocial and practical education on topics including fertility, sexuality, and managing late effects. There were no improvements in self-rated confidence in providing cancer care to AYA.
To provide high-quality healthcare to AYAs with cancer, health professionals require ongoing and consistent opportunities for education and training.