Isolation experienced by women with gestational cancer: could peer support and tailored information be the answer?

Lesley Stafford, Michelle Sinclair, Katrin Gerber, Christobel Saunders, Angela Ives, Michelle Peate, Jocelyn Lippey, Ruth Little

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Women diagnosed with cancer during pregnancy (gestational cancer) are a small but vulnerable population, with experts suggesting they require greater psycho-social support than either other women with cancer or other pregnant women. However, information on their psychological needs remains sparse. This commentary describes our work exploring the psychological needs of women diagnosed with gestational cancer, areas of unmet need we identified, and our recommendations for future programs and research. We conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 23 Australian women diagnosed with gestational cancer in the preceding 5 years. Our findings depicted a group of women for whom cancer diagnosis and treatment had resulted in a sense of isolation and loneliness. Women reported seeking tailored information about their condition and treatments as well as one-on-one peer support with other gestational cancer survivors, which was challenging for them to access and which existing services struggled to provide. To address these unmet needs, innovative solutions may be necessary. Technology has the potential to connect and match women with one-to-one peer support, and research exploring the efficacy and acceptability of such interventions is required. Creative solutions, such as virtual resource hubs monitored or moderated by experts, would potentially meet the information needs of this group. However, as gestational cancer is relatively rare, the development and evaluation of such interventions would require a collaborative effort across multiple sites, as well as international collaboration and data pooling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7135-7138
Number of pages4
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Volume29
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

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