Background: Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) have more frequent and intense adverse effects from cancer therapy than other age groups. Self-efficacy, the ability for persons to maintain health-related behavior change, may assist with symptom management but the role it plays in AYAs with cancer has not been thoroughly investigated. This review explores the role that self-efficacy has in symptom management for AYAs with cancer and provides guidance for clinicians to utilize self-efficacy as a means to reduce side effects of therapy. Methods: A systematic review of peer-reviewed literature was conducted to identify works discussing self-efficacy and symptom management for AYAs with cancer. Five databases were searched with key terms and articles that discussed relationships between self-efficacy and cancer therapy symptoms were retained for analysis. Findings: Twelve manuscripts representing 1180 individuals age 12 to 43 years were identified. Self-efficacy was found to be related to (1) health management behaviors, (2) psychosocial health, (3) sexual and reproductive health, and (4) physical symptoms. Self-efficacy had direct correlations with physical activity, nutritional intake, symptom regulation, mental health, sexual health, and fertility preservation. The included studies did not find significant relationships with medication adherence or pain management. Discussion: Self-efficacy is an attribute that impacts behavior change, health maintenance, and overall wellness and can be changed over time and through interventions to improve symptoms of cancer therapy. Self-efficacy should be evaluated as a construct in relevant studies aimed at improving side effects of cancer therapy to better understand outcomes from interventions. Symptoms, toxicities, and adverse effects of cancer therapy may be improved by increasing self-efficacy of patients.
- Young adult
ASJC Scopus subject areas