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Providers’ Perspectives on Addressing Health Risk Behaviors and Mental Health among Young Adult Survivors of Childhood Cance

Carla J Berg, Erin Stratton, Natia Esiashvili, Ann Mertens, Robin C. Vanderpool


Objectives: We examined healthcare providers’ perspectives on how childhood cancer impacts young adult health behaviors and psychosocial functioning, how healthy lifestyle and psychosocial issues are addressed in this population, challenges related to addressing these issues, and potential resources for addressing them.

Methods: In 2012, we recruited 21 healthcare providers (e.g., oncologists, nurses, social workers) who treat young adult survivors of childhood cancer from a children’s hospital and a cancer center in the Southeastern U.S. to complete telephone-based semi-structured interviews.

Results: Our sample was an average of 45.95 (SD=7.57) years old, 52.4% female, and 81.0% MDs. Most mentioned that the impact of cancer on health risk behaviors and psychosocial functioning depended on several things including social support and other environmental factors. Participants indicated several general activities and approaches aimed at addressing healthy lifestyles among this population. Participants reported a range of health education, from minimal education to continuous education throughout treatment and survivorship. Providers indicated a team-oriented approach to addressing psychosocial issues and that the survivorship program addressed the complications of obtaining insurance, education and employment, and reproductive health within this population. A major factor was the involvement of the family in addressing these issues. Providers’ challenges in intervening included limited time, resources, financial support, and referral options. Participants suggested resources to address these challenges.

Conclusions: Several resources are needed to address the challenges faced by practitioners in addressing young adult survivors’ issues, including physical resources, social support resources, education for patients and healthcare providers, and programs to provide financial support.


Survivorship care; young adults; childhood cancer; health behavior; health promotion; mental health


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