There are approximately 70,000 new diagnoses of cancer annually in adolescents and young adults (AYAs; ages 15-39), and nearly 2 million people in the United States are living with or have survived being diagnosed with cancer as an AYA. Despite the high number of AYA survivors, survival rates of AYAs have not kept pace with those of their younger or older counterparts. AYAs face unique challenges given the physical, cognitive, and psychosocial developmental milestones that may be disrupted as a result of their cancer experience. In addition to the age-related disparities in survival rates, AYAs are at greater risk of significant psychological and financial distress compared to older adults with cancer. Accordingly, assessing and better understanding the unique needs and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of this important, underserved group as they manage their cancer experience is essential in order to optimize and tailor supportive care approaches. A few HRQOL conceptual frameworks exist that describe the types of symptom burden and functional impact experienced by AYAs with cancer, but most HRQOL measures fail to capture the range of HRQOL domains that are important to AYAs. Further, measures of HRQOL specifically developed for AYAs lack common items and standardized scoring approaches across the age range of 15-39, limiting the ability to understand the unique needs of this age group. The NIH?s Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) assesses most of the relevant HRQOL domains (pain, fatigue, anxiety, depression, cognitive functioning, physical functioning, sexual functioning, and social support) but has not been validated in AYAs and PROMIS does not include key domains such as financial distress, body image concerns, or fertility/ parenthood concerns that provide a complete perspective of HRQOL in AYAs with cancer. The main objective of our study is to expand the use of PROMIS to provide reliable and valid assessment of important HRQOL concerns for AYAs. To accomplish this goal, we propose the following specific aims: (1) develop item pools of financial distress, body image concerns, and fertility/parenthood concerns for AYAs with cancer using PROMIS measurement development methodologies; (2) calibrate item banks and short forms of financial distress, body image concerns, and fertility/ parenthood concerns in a large, developmentally diverse sample of AYAs with and without cancer; and (3) validate newly developed short forms of financial distress, body image concerns, and fertility/ parenthood concerns along with existing PROMIS short forms in a developmentally and clinically diverse, prospective sample of AYAs with cancer. At the end of this research study, we will have a psychometrically robust, state-of-the-art measurement system tailored to AYAs? unique HRQOL needs. Through the identification, adaptation, and development of reliable, valid, and responsive measures of HRQOL for AYAs with cancer, we will give these underserved patients a voice and provide the assessment tools clinicians and researchers need to enhance patient-centered care.

Public Health Relevance

AYAs with cancer experience many challenges that impact their health-related quality of life (HRQOL) but few measures adequately capture AYAs? HRQOL in valid and reliable ways. The main goal of our study is to expand the use of the Patient-Reported Outcome Measurement Information System (PROMIS) to provide valid and reliable assessment of important HRQOL concerns for AYAs. We will do this by validating existing PROMIS measures and developing and validating new measures of financial distress, fertility/parenthood concerns, and body image concerns for AYAs with cancer.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Smith, Ashley
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Wake Forest University Health Sciences
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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