Controlled studies or studies that used a pre/post test design and that reported a quantitative evaluation of a psychological intervention aimed at improving psychological and social functioning or reducing psychological distress in adolescents (>10 years) with cancer were eligible for inclusion. Studies were excluded if they assessed medication, music or art therapy or programs for survivors that focused on psycho-educational components. Interventions including general health-oriented lifestyle changes and behavioural modifications (including smoking cessation) were excluded, as were studies aimed at improving pain or dealing with medical procedures (studies that were designed to focus on dealing with very specific situations).
Three quarters of the included studies were carried out in USA. Study participants varied in terms of the type, site and stage of tumour. Most studies focused on patients who were receiving or had finished treatment; only one study focused on newly diagnosed patients.
Where reported, participant age ranged from 12 to 29 years and the proportion of males ranged from 35% to 57%. Half of the studies used interventions that were based on a theoretical model (such as Adolescents’ Self-Sustaining Model). Most studies used group sessions that varyied from a single 40-minute session to several weekly one hour to 1.5 hour sessions; one study used two 90 minute individual counselling sessions. Intervention aims varied between studies (further details were presented in the review). Interventions were compared with different control groups, including a wait list control group, an attention control group and a usual support group. Types of outcomes assessed varied. All studies collected data via self-report questionnaires completed by the adolescents. Baseline outcome assessments were carried out between one day and 78 months after diagnosis.
Only one reviewer assessed studies for inclusion.