Purpose: Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer need self-management strategies to cope with multiple symptoms. Self-efficacy, self-regulation, and negotiated collaboration are key theoretical components of the self-management process and have not been fully explored with AYAs with cancer. This study examined the effects of a heuristic symptom assessment tool on AYAs' self-efficacy for symptom management, AYAs' self-regulation abilities related to their symptoms, and communication with their providers about symptoms.
Methods: AYAs (15-29 years of age) receiving chemotherapy used the Computerized Symptom Capture Assessment Tool (C-SCAT) to illustrate their symptom experience and discuss their symptoms with providers during two clinic visits. Participants completed the PROMIS Self-efficacy for Managing Symptoms Scale, a measure of satisfaction with provider communication, and a short interview about self-regulation and communication behaviors at baseline and after each provider visit.
Results: Eighty-five AYAs who used the C-SCAT showed improved self-efficacy for managing symptoms. Qualitative data suggest that the C-SCAT was useful for enhancing a number of AYAs' self-regulation abilities related to symptom management, such as awareness and recall of symptoms, how symptoms were related, and how they planned to talk about their symptoms to providers. AYAs reported C-SCAT facilitated communication with providers about symptoms and symptom management because it was a visual prompt showing priority and related symptoms.
Conclusions: Because AYAs continue to experience multiple distressing symptoms, symptom self-management remains an important area for practice and research. Use of heuristic tools, such as the C-SCAT, may help AYAs more effectively self-manage their symptoms for better health outcomes.
Keywords: communication; self-efficacy; self-management; self-regulation; symptoms.