Measuring the psychosocial health of adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer survivors: a critical review

Tara Clinton-McHarg, Mariko Carey, Rob Sanson-Fisher, Anthony Shakeshaft, Kathy Rainbird
Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2010, 8: 25

BACKGROUND: Adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer survivors require psychometrically rigorous measures to assess their psychosocial well-being. Without methodologically adequate scales the accuracy of information obtained on the prevalence of needs, predictors of risk, and the potential success of any interventions, can be questioned. This review assessed the psychometric properties of measures designed specifically to identify the psychosocial health of this unique population.

METHODS: Medline, PsycINFO, CINAHL and EMBASE databases were searched to identify measures developed to assess the psychosocial health of AYA cancer survivors. Searches were limited to the years 1998-2008. A search of Medline revealed that the number of publications related to the assessment of psychosocial well-being in AYA cancer survivors prior to this period were minimal. The psychometric properties of identified measures were evaluated against pre-determined and generally accepted psychometric criteria including: reliability (internal consistency and test-retest); validity (face, content, construct, and criterion); responsiveness; acceptability; and feasibility.

RESULTS: Seven quality of life measures met the inclusion criteria. No measures of unmet need were identified. All seven measures reported adequate internal consistency, face, content, and construct validity. Test-retest reliability, criterion (predictive) validity, responsiveness, acceptability, and feasibility were rarely examined.

CONCLUSIONS: There is a need to further evaluate the psychometric properties of existing quality of life measures for AYA cancer survivors. Valid, reliable, and acceptable measures which can assess the psychosocial needs of this population should also be developed.

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