Challenges with health-related quality of life (HRQOL) are common among adolescents and young adults (AYA) with cancer. Literature on HRQOL has largely been focused on individual deficits, rather than individual strengths. The present study investigated the relations between a strengths-based concept called grit (i.e., perseverance and passion for long-term goals), self-management (i.e., health self-efficacy and adherence), and HRQOL among AYA with cancer.
Sixty-seven AYA receiving cancer treatment (Mage=17.1; 50.7% female; 25.4% Black, Hispanic, Asian, or a race other than white) and their caregivers (73.0% mothers) completed a semistructured, validated interview about adherence. AYA also completed self-report questionnaires about perceptions of their grit, health self-efficacy, and HRQOL.
After controlling for sex, health self-efficacy (i.e., a cognitive self-management variable) mediated the relation between grit and HRQOL (95% confidence interval = .74–6.52). When testing adherence to medications, diet, or physical activity as mediators of the relation between grit and HRQOL, mediation models were non-significant.
Among AYA with cancer, this study identified grit as an individual strength associated with more positive self-management beliefs, which in turn, related to better HRQOL. This adds to a growing body of literature supporting the need for resiliency-oriented, strengths-based approaches to AYA HRQOL research. Future directions include exploring the role of caregiver grit in relation to AYA cancer self-management, given that caregivers have demonstrated a high degree of involvement in AYA cancer care.