Exploring Experiences of Adolescent and Young Adults With Cancer Using Two Visual ApproachesAdolescents and Young Adults (AYAs) cancer patients represent a population with unique needs and challenges that differ from those of adults and children with cancer.

“One of the difficulties that can be encountered when exploring cancer experiences of AYAs cancer patients is that words may be insufficient. Thus, questionnaires or interviews possibly give insight into a limited part of AYAs cancer experiences” (cited in Bood et al, 2022).

Aiming to obtain a comprehensive view of the cancer experience of AYAs, Bood et al. (2022) designed a two qualitative visual research, using Rich Pictures (RPs) interviews and photovoice tools, as the authors identified benefits of using visual tools in children and older cancer patient populations.

RPs are draws that one creates to express one’s experiences, which can disclose multiple aspects of well-being, such as physical, emotional, and social well-being of those who are affected by cancer. Photovoice involves taking photos with a professional photographer regarding certain themes that are important to AYA cancer patients.

In this study, from the 12 AYAs interviewed for the RPs, seven also participated in the photovoice project (led by F|FortFoundation, a Ducth organization). 11 of the 12 AYAs were female, and the average age was 31 years. The AYAs had different types of cancer, including lymphoma, breast, ovarian, brain, or testicular cancer.

The rsearchers concluded that both tools overlap in most methods, but are also complementary. However, some subtopics only appeared in one method or another. For example, uncertainty about being able to become pregnant was only depicted in the RPs; the difficulty of dating was also depicted in both visual tools, but the impact of cancer on experimenting with one’s sexual orientation was only visualized in the photovoice.

The two most predominant themes emerging from the data were struggles related to (a) the future and (b) defining one’s identity. The themes considered more relevant for AYAs during treatment were related to be forced to put a halt to studying and/or working, feeling segregated from peers, experiencing changes in appearance, (online) dating.

The authors Z. Bood e al. support that AYAs are in need of targeted interventions, especially focusing on improving psychosocial health and suggest that more initiatives such as the AYA care team from the “National AYA Young and Cancer Care Network,” could be developed.