First Descents, an adventure program for young adults with cancer: who benefits?

Support Care Cancer. 2017 Dec;25(12):3665-3673. doi: 10.1007/s00520-017-3792-7. Epub 2017 Jun 27.


Background: Participation in camps, adventure programs, retreats, and other social events offers experiences that can promote self-efficacy and quality of life.

Purpose: The purpose of the study was to examine whether participation in a 1-week outdoor adventure program resulted in improvements in psychological distress, self-efficacy, and/or social support for young adult cancer patients (AYAs) aged 18-40 years. The study examined the differential effect of participation for AYAs who indicated moderate to severe symptoms of psychological distress prior to their trip.

Methods: Standardized measures of distress, self-efficacy, and social support were administered pre-trip, post-trip, and 1 month after program completion (follow-up). Univariate and multivariate models examined baseline scores for non-distressed participants compared to distressed participants, changes in outcomes from pre-trip to post-trip and follow-up for the entire sample, and the extent to which change rates for each outcome differed for distressed versus non-distressed participants.

Results: All participants demonstrated significant improvement in self-efficacy over time. Distressed participants reported a significantly greater decrease in distress symptoms and greater increase in self-efficacy and social support at post-trip and 1 month later when compared to non-distressed participants.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that participation in an outdoor recreational activity designed specifically for AYAs with cancer contributes to significant reductions in distress and improvements in self-efficacy and social support, and particularly for AYAs reporting clinically significant distress symptoms prior to the initiation of their activity.

Keywords: Anxiety; Depression; Intervention; Quality of life; Self-efficacy; Young adult.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Young Adult