Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) must deal with the effects of cancer and its treatment during a formative period in their body image development. These AYAs may have difficulties coping with appearance changes arising from cancer and its associated treatments, develop body image difficulties, and have poorer psychosocial adjustment, including higher levels of depression and anxiety and lower quality of life.
To review the impact of cancer and its treatment on body image in AYAs by examining case-control studies only.
MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and Embase were searched for studies meeting our search terms: body image (including body dissatisfaction, physical appearance, attractiveness, etc.), neoplasms (including cancer, tumours, leukaemia, etc.), and adolescents and young adults (including teen, teenager, etc.).
After eliminating duplicates, we identified 162 studies, with abstracts currently being screened for eligibility by the authors. Eligible studies were (a) written in English, (b) published in peer-reviewed journals, (c) compared the levels of body image between adolescents or young adults with cancer and their healthy peers or test norms, or provided sufficient information for a comparison with established normative data, and (d) comprised adolescent and/or young adult samples.
While screening is still in progress, the results will be available for presentation at the WCC conference 2014. Studies that compared AYAs with cancer to healthy controls (or normative data) will be presented. Meta-analysis will then be conducted to derive between-group weighted mean effect sizes (and 95% confidence intervals).
The body image measures used and the quality of the included studies will also be reported.
This systematic review will add to the emerging literature examining the impact of cancer on body image functioning in AYA populations. The results may inform clinical practice as to whether body image should be an explicit focus of psychosocial interventions for AYAs with cancer.