The Experience of Parental Cancer Among Young Adult University Students and its Influence on Health Beliefs and Behaviours

McPhail, Christine
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University of Guelph

Cancer is a disease that can have negative and some positive outcomes for the survivor, caregiver, and offspring. To date, there has been little research on the experiences of young adult offspring. When these offspring are also university students, they can experience unique challenges. This study aimed to explore the experience of parental cancer among young adult university students by interviewing 17 university students and using thematic analysis. Participants faced challenges with their friendships but found that the experience brought their family closer. Most participants gained an altered and more positive life outlook. Parental cancer caused distress and led to a decreased ability to focus at school but some participants found their experience to be a source of motivation. Participants became more health conscious, made lifestyle changes and felt they were more susceptible to cancer. The university atmosphere, time, and money were identified as barriers to making lifestyle changes.

Parental cancer, Young adult offspring, University students, Lifestyle changes, Motivation