New Study On Teens' Feelings About Appearance During Cancer

Armen Hareyan's picture
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A new research project by the Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) at the University of the West of England will use photography to explore how teenagers and their families feel about their altered appearance as a result of cancer treatment.

The study, which is funded by CLIC Sargent, the UK's leading children's cancer charity, and which is being carried out at Bristol Children's Hospital, will take a different approach to this research by using photography as a tool for the young people to record their experiences and their feelings. Alongside this, the research team will, over a nine month period, regularly interview those taking part in order to assess how they are feeling about their body image.

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Heidi Williamson, (CAR) the lead researcher says, "Teenagers are at a particularly sensitive period in their lives where appearance is linked to self esteem so any changes as a result from cancer treatment may be particularly difficult for them to deal with. Survival rates for cancer treatment are increasing all the time, and our hope is that through this project we will be able to design an intervention which will make the appearance issues of cancer treatment less traumatic for the patient.

"The teenagers who take part in the study are given a disposable camera for a couple of weeks and asked to take pictures of their experiences during cancer treatment relating to the way they look and how they feel about their appearance. The pictures can be of anything that represents how they feel about their appearance - they don't have to be of the teenager themselves. Changes to appearance during cancer treatment as a result of chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery can include hair loss, weight gain, skin changes and scarring.

"The photos form the basis of an interview with the participant where we talk about the images, and explore their experiences of appearance change during treatment

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