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OBJECTIVES: This study explored factors that play a role in psychological adaptation and recovery of young people with sarcoma. DESIGN: Qualitative study. SETTING: National Health Service hospitals in the UK. METHODS: Using purposive sampling, participants were recruited for semistructured interviews over the telephone or face to face in order to answer questions about how cancer impacted various domains of their life. Data were analysed using a framework approach. RESULTS: Thirty participants, aged 15-39 years with primary sarcoma diagnosis provided in-depth accounts of their experience. Emerging themes from the interviews were grouped into two overarching themes that relate to one's adaptation to illness: individual level and environmental level. The qualitative nature of our study sheds light on meaningful connections between various factors and their role in one's psychological adaptation to sarcoma. We devised a visual matrix to illustrate how risk and protective factors in adaptation vary between and within individuals. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that young people with sarcoma report an array of both positive and negative factors related to their illness experience. The route to recovery is a multifactorial process and a one-size-fits-all approach to psychosocial care proves inadequate. We propose that moving beyond the latent constructs of resilience and psychopathology towards a dynamic model of psychological adaptation and recovery in this population can result in optimisation of care. We offer some recommendations for professionals working with young people with sarcoma in clinic and research.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

Publication Date





psychiatry, qualitative research, sarcoma, Adaptation, Psychological, Adolescent, Adult, Humans, Qualitative Research, Sarcoma, Soft Tissue Neoplasms, State Medicine, Young Adult