Selective sharing: The impact of patterns of communication in young people experiencing maternal cancer
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Rodriguez, Leonor. Selective sharing: The impact of patterns of communication in young people experiencing maternal cancer. CANCER REPORTS, 0(0), e1138. doi: doi:10.1002/cnr2.1138
Background Adolescents that experience parental cancer can have significant difficulties and may be at a greater risk of emotional and behavioural problems; however, some studies have found that this experience can also be empowering and can promote positive growth. Open communication specifically has been associated with coping and less psychological distress in adolescents experiencing parental cancer. Aims The aim of this study is to identify communication patterns in adolescents that faced maternal cancer to provide recommendations for practice on how best to support adolescents at this challenging time. Methods Adolescents (n = 15) completed semistructured interviews with the main researcher to explore their experiences at the time of maternal cancer. Specifically, this study is a qualitative secondary thematic analysis. Results The term “selective sharing” was coined to characterise adolescent communication patterns, as they selected who they wished to talk to and how much information about maternal illness they shared. Barriers for adolescent open communication included perceived unavailability of their mothers to talk, fear, geographical separation from their families, previous family communication patterns, and the time since maternal diagnosis. Benefits of open communication included access to affection, support and information, as well as validation of their emotions and improved coping. Adolescents also provided recommendations to peers and practitioners based on their own experiences. Conclusions Adolescent communication patterns need to be evaluated as this can impact on their ability to cope with maternal cancer diagnosis. Practitioners can facilitate and encourage open communication, including both factual information about cancer and the emotions and thoughts adhered to this experience for adolescents, mothers, friends, and their families to support them at this challenging time.