Post-Traumatic Growth and Resilience in Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Patients: An Overview

J Adolesc Young Adult Oncol. 2018 Feb;7(1):1-14. doi: 10.1089/jayao.2017.0040. Epub 2017 Sep 8.


The aim of this study was to provide an overview of the literature on post-traumatic growth (PTG) and resilience among adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer patients. A literature search in Embase, PsychInfo, PubMed, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, and Cinahl was carried out. Thirteen articles met the pre-defined inclusion criteria. Qualitative interview studies showed that AYA cancer patients report PTG and resilience: PTG is described by AYA cancer patients in terms of benefit finding, including changing view of life and feeling stronger and more confident, whereas resilience is described as a balance of several factors, including stress and coping, goals, optimism, finding meaning, connection, and belonging. Quantitative studies showed that sociodemographic and clinical characteristics were not associated with PTG. Enduring stress was negatively, and social support positively, associated with PTG. Symptom distress and defensive coping were negatively and adaptive cognitive coping was positively associated with resilience. Both PTG and resilience were positively associated with satisfaction with life and health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Resilience was found to be a mediator in the relationship between symptom distress and HRQoL. Two interventions aiming to promote resilience, a stress management and a therapeutic music video-intervention, were not successful in significantly increasing overall resilience. Most AYA cancer patients report at least some PTG or resilience. Correlates of PTG and resilience, including symptom distress, stress, coping, social support, and physical activity, provide further insight to improve the effectiveness of interventions aimed at promoting these positive outcomes and potentially buffer negative outcomes.

Keywords: coping; positive outcomes; post-traumatic growth; resilience; social support; stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Posttraumatic Growth, Psychological*
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Young Adult