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Keeping Their World Together-Meanings and Actions Created Through Network-Focused Nursing in Teenager and Young Adult Cancer Care

Olsen, Pia Riis MSN, RN, PhD(c); Harder, Ingegerd PhD, RN

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e3181b3857e

In the transition between dependent childhood and independent young adulthood, teenagers and young adults (TYAs) are extremely vulnerable when diagnosed with cancer and while undergoing treatment. Nurses working on a youth unit for patients aged 15 to 22 years developed a nursing program that aims at supporting these young patients and their significant others to maintain, establish, and strengthen their social network during the treatment period. This article presents a grounded theory study that explored how the network-focused program was perceived by TYAs with cancer and their significant others. A theoretical account is presented on the meanings and actions that the inherent processes and interactions created. Twelve TYAs and 19 significant others participated. Data were generated through interviews, observations, and informal conversations. Embracing the program and building strength were the 2 subcategories that linked to a core concept of keeping their world together. The findings show that nurses are in a unique position to enhance and support the efforts of these young patients and their significant others in connecting with the social network that extends beyond the family and includes the wider social network.

Authors' Affiliations: Department of Oncology, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark (Ms Olsen); and Department of Nursing Science, School of Public Health, University of Aarhus, Denmark (Dr Harder).

This work was supported by grants from the Danish Nurses' Organization, the Danish Cancer Society, the Child Cancer Foundation, and Aarhus University Hospital.

Corresponding author: Pia Riis Olsen, MSN, RN, PhD(c), Department of Oncology, Aarhus University Hospital, Noerrebrogade 44, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark (;

Accepted for publication June 17, 2009.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.