A Systematic Review of Professionals' Experiences of Discussing Fertility Issues with Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer
Tennyson, Rebekah E
Griffiths, Helen C
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Rebekah E. Tennyson and Helen C. Griffiths. A Systematic Review of Professionals' Experiences of Discussing Fertility Issues with Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer. Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology. Published ahead of print 22.03.2019
impaired fertility is one potential late effect of cancer, with 15% of adolescents and young adults with cancer (AYAC) at a high risk. Guidelines state that fertility advice should be available at diagnosis; however, research shows that this is not routinely provided. This can negatively affect patients' emotional well-being, mental health, and satisfaction with care. This review aimed to synthesize and critically evaluate studies investigating professionals' experiences of discussing fertility issues with AYAC patients and to understand the barriers and facilitating factors to having these conversations with this specific age group. Peer-reviewed qualitative and quantitative studies were identified by systematically searching eight databases. Fifteen articles reporting from 14 studies were included in the review. Participants reported patient, parent, professional, and institutional factors that influenced fertility discussions. The most commonly reported barriers were the lack of patient educational materials and staff training. Participants were more likely to discuss fertility with patients who were male; had less severe disease; and raised the issue of fertility themselves. The findings suggest that professionals' own values and opinions influence the likelihood of fertility being discussed, with implications for guidance and training. Further, institutional barriers lead to a lack of consistent provision for patients both nationally and internationally. A paucity of research looking solely at AYA populations was noted. A need for research comparing the experiences of different professional groups and exploring the extent to which reported barriers impact on fertility discussions was highlighted. There is also a need for higher-quality qualitative research adopting stronger methodology.