Describing posttraumatic growth and exploring its correlates among survivors of adolescent and young adult cancer


Background: Posttraumatic growth (PTG), characterized as positive psychological change in multiple domains occurring in the wake of significantly difficult or traumatic life events, has been documented among cancer survivors. Few researchers have explored PTG among survivors of adolescent and young adult cancer (AYAs). AYAs may differ in their experiences of PTG because of the different types of adversities (e.g., physical, mental, emotional, social, financial) they must deal with. We sought to describe PTG levels in a sample of AYAs, and explore the relationships between PTG and personal, medical, and behavioural factors. Methods: Eighty-eight AYAs (Mage=33+/-4.4 years; 75% female) who were on average 1.7 years (SD=1.4) post-treatment completed an online survey that included the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTG-I), the Leisure Time Exercise Questionnaire, and a sociodemographic/medical questionnaire. Descriptive statistics and multiple regression models for total PTG and each of the five PTG-I subscales were conducted. Results: Total PTG levels were moderately high relative to the scale range (M=60.3, SD=14.7, scale range=0-105). Mean PTG-I subscale scores were moderate-to-high (M=2.1-3.3, SD=0.7-1.4, scale range=0-5), with participants reporting the highest growth in appreciation of life and lowest growth in spiritual change. Current age, sex, type of cancer, time since treatment, and physical activity (PA) participation did not account for a significant amount of variance in total PTG or PTG-I subscales (R2=.039-.114, ps>.05). Conclusions: Findings suggest AYAs experience PTG. Further exploration of this phenomena and its potential predicators, correlates, and determinants among AYAs drawing on theory is required as AYAs stand to benefit from experiencing PTG.