Impact of health on adolescent development.
Historically the life spans of chronically ill adolescents were severely shortened and most of them did not survive past their stage of adolescence. However with ongoing medical advancements and new treatments this is no longer the case and today adolescents who suffer from a number of chronic conditions can now expect to live well beyond this stage. During the 1990’s approximately 75% of paediatric and adolescent cancer sufferers could be treated and cured (Ries et al. 1999). Unfortunately, irrespective of improved survival cancer rates in young people, the disorder and its related side effects will significantly impact their development and in ...view middle of the document...
, 2001). This is very heartening when one considers that Leukemias are the most commonly diagnosed cancers in children accounting for approximately 33% of all cases (Cancer Research 2014). Unfortunately for these chronically ill adolescents, when compared to otherwise healthy adolescents, their developmental issues are significantly magnified (Boice 1998).
The World Health Organisation (2014) defines adolescence as a developmental stage of significant physical and emotional development from childhood to adulthood which occurs between the ages of 10 and 19. This stage, including its key integral components such as social, physical and psychological changes, is crucial for an individual to achieve a stable adult role (Lerner & Steinberg 2004).
Whilst addressing both aspects, social and sexuality, it is of significant benefit to include the family in all aspects of care. This is especially important as adolescents recognise family members as being the ultimate cornerstone of support (Zebrack et al. 2007). In addition to this, other benefits include a stronger alliance with the family in promoting each child’s health and development (Holm et al. 2003)and also maximising growth and well being (Saleeba 2008). While nurses cannot be expected to assume sole responsibility for furthering family centred care, nurses often act as the impetus for initiating and incorporating partnership practices in to daily care (Abraham & Moretz 2012).
Adolescents with cancer frequently experience symptoms from their illness, treatments and side effects that are challenging for them to manage; these include stress, fatigue, pain, insomnia, anxiety, nausea and vomiting (Ameringer et al., 2013). Furthermore there are also a number of invasive procedures, such as bone marrow aspiration or biopsy, lumbar puncture, venipuncture and percutaneous vascular access which could be required (Landier & Tse 2010).) The disorder, its related side effects and treatments will leave Jason far more susceptible to psychiatric and social issues; something that Le Blanc et al. (2003) highlighted when discussing unwell adolescents and their susceptibility to both issues. Another negative outcome, which follows from a cancer diagnosis, is severe disruption to daily life specifically family and school (National Cancer Policy Forum 2014).
An intense process of socialisation and in turn social development occurs at school (Berzonsky & Adams 2003). It is therefore imperative when analysing the social development component of chronically ill adolescents, to focus on school life. Jason has already experienced three extended hospital stays which has resulted in him missing significant lengths of school time. This is in line with Hampson (2000) who stated that a diagnosis and subsequent treatments of cancer will significantly disrupt social development. During adolescence peer acceptance is very important, as being shunned by peers has been linked with emotional and behavioural issues...