Purpose: Many healthcare providers (HCPs) struggle to communicate and connect with adolescents and young adults (AYA) with cancer that hinders their ability to adequately assess and address the psychosocial needs of AYA. The purpose of this article is to describe the key behaviors of HCPs AYA perceive as essential to fostering connectedness with them and the outcomes AYA experience from such connectedness. Methods: The sample for this empirical phenomenological study was nine AYA cancer survivors (aged 20-23 years) who were diagnosed in adolescence. In-person individual interviews were conducted using a broad, data-generating question and analyzed using an adapted Colaizzi's method. Results: The key behaviors of HCPs AYA perceive as essential to fostering connectedness include (1) exhibiting characteristics of knowing how to connect; (2) being watchful and attentive to AYA needs; (3) displaying a willingness to foster the relationship; (4) using humor; and (5) conveying respect, support, and caring. Outcomes of connectedness for AYA include a sense of being cared about, understood, and respected as unique individuals. In addition, AYA experience a sense of confidence/comfort in expressing themselves to HCPs, anticipation of interacting with HCPs in the future, a sense of gratitude for HCPs, and enhanced well-being. Conclusion: Findings highlight the specific behaviors HCPs can use to foster connectedness with AYA and the outcomes AYA experience from connectedness. Improving HCPs' ability to connect with AYA and maintain connectedness is essential to identifying and addressing the psychosocial needs of AYA. AYA-HCP connectedness may help reduce the psychosocial distress AYA experience during and after treatment.
- quality of life
- supportive care
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health