Teenagers of women with breast cancer are invited to participate in a new study at NUI Galway which seeks to understand and help adolescent adjustment to maternal illness.
The importance of family support for a person with cancer is now well accepted but also there is increasing recognition that when someone in the family gets cancer other members also need help. The study at NUI Galway is focusing in particular on the impact of maternal breast cancer on sons and daughters aged 14-19 years.
The study, AMBC - Adolescent Adjustment to Maternal Breast Cancer, is being carried out under the direction of Dr AnnMarie Groarke, School of Psychology and Professor Pat Dolan, Director Child and Family Research Centre, UNESCO Chair in Children Youth and Civic Engagement. The research will examine the psychological impact of a mother’s breast cancer on teenage children and the benefits of an online skills based programme designed to help adolescents cope with this situation.
Dr Groarke, who has recently published work showing benefits for stress management programmes with Irish women with breast cancer emphasises: “The crucial need for additional information on how a cancer diagnosis affects the entire family. Paying attention to adolescent response to parental illness can help us to identify the kind of support needed and enable the design of programmes targeting their needs.”
Professor Dolan, who has considerable research experience in child and family support affirms that: “Many families are affected by breast cancer and their support needs are unspoken. This study is an opportunity for young people to discuss concerns and needs for reassurance for their families and themselves.”
The researchers are keen to hear from women who might be interested in their adolescent son or daughter taking part in the programme. Ideally, from mothers who have been diagnosed with breast cancer in the last 12 months and who have an adolescent son or daughter between 14 and 19 years of age.
Participation involves completing an online survey exploring adolescent needs and experiences and completing an online programme of approximately eight sessions. The online programme covers themes such as communication, stress management and social skills /social support. The online intervention allows adolescents participate in their own time and at their own pace.