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A longitudinal case–control study on goals in adolescents with cancer

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Objective: This study examined whether: (1) the goals of adolescents with cancer at 3 months post-diagnosis (T1) and healthy peers differed in terms of content, valuation, and abstraction level, (2) the content, valuation and abstraction level of the goals of the adolescents with cancer differed between 3 and 12 months post-diagnosis (T2).

Methods: Thirty-three adolescents with cancer and 66 matched controls completed the Personal Project Analysis Inventory. After nine months, the adolescents with cancer completed the measure again.

Results: Compared to controls, adolescents with cancer at 3 months post-diagnosis (T1) reported more intrinsic than extrinsic goals, appraised intrinsic goals as more important than extrinsic goals and reported more concrete goals. Within the adolescents with cancer, the content, valuation and abstraction level of the goals did not differ between T1 and T2.

Conclusions: Adolescents recently diagnosed with cancer set different types of goals than healthy peers and continue to set these types of goals until one year post-diagnosis. Future research can help determine how the personal goals of adolescents with cancer develop in the long term and to what extent personal goal setting during cancer influences the attainment of age-graded developmental tasks and well-being.
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Keywords: adolescent; cancer; case–control study; longitudinal; oncology; personal goals

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: UMCG School of Nursing and Health, University of Groningen, University Medical Centre Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands 2: Department of Health Psychology, University of Groningen, University Medical Centre Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands 3: Department of Paediatric Oncology/Haematology, Beatrix Children’s Hospital, University of Groningen, University Medical Centre Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

Publication date: September 2, 2015

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