Children's Health

Many young adults diagnosed with cancer experienced psychological distress during COVID-19

Many adolescents and young adults diagnosed with cancer are experiencing high psychological distress during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published in Psycho-Oncology.

For the study, 805 individuals in Canada who were diagnosed with cancer between 15 and 39 years of age completed an online survey.

High psychological distress was present in more than two‐thirds of the group (68.0%). Those whose employment had been impacted during the pandemic and those with blood cancer were more likely to experience high psychological distress, while those who were older and those with a personal income in 2020 that was <$40,000 tended to have lower distress.

Adolescents and young adults with cancer during the pandemic had an 85% higher odds of experiencing psychological distress compared with a similar group surveyed in 2018.

Overarching themes of pandemic experiences included inferior quality of life, impairment of cancer care, COVID‐19–related concerns, and extreme social isolation.

The pandemic has adversely impacted the mental health of adolescents and young adults with cancer. The findings of this study underscore the importance of providing enhanced and tailored interventions to combat psychological distress among these patients. Cancer organizations and policymakers must prioritize mental health supports for adolescents and young adults with cancer to optimize their health outcomes and quality of life.”

Sapna Oberoi, MBBS, MD, DM, Study Senior Author, University of Manitoba

Journal reference:

Glidden, C., et al. (2022) Psychological distress and experiences of Adolescents and Young Adults with cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic: A cross-sectional survey. Psycho-Oncology.

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