Adolescents and young adults (AYA) face some unique challenges in living with life limiting illness. Due to advances in medical treatment many AYAs have grown up through childhood with their illness, and despite needing ongoing treatment are no longer children. Others have been diagnosed with a life limiting illness as adolescents or young adults just as they are undergoing significant changes to physical, emotions and social autonomy.

These unique physical, psychosocial and spiritual needs require nurses to have proactive and appropriate knowledge and skills. Adolescents are transitioning into adulthood and independence, and this ongoing development has an impact on caring. [1-2] Many of these adolescents are now reaching adulthood and require support in transitioning to adult services. [2-3]

Information is also available on:



  • The Youth cancer website (from Canteen) has information and resources for young people with cancer and their families.
  • ONTrac at PeterMac – Victorian Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Service.
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Free Full Text Articles

Barling JA, Steves JA, Davis K. Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) transition into palliative care: a narrative analysis of family member’s stories of place of death. J Palliat Care Med. 2012;2:130

Docherty SL, Thaxton C, Allison C, Barfield RC, Tamburro RF. The nursing dimension of providing palliative care to children and adolescents with cancer. Clin Med Insights Pediatr. 2012 Sep 25;6:75-88. Print 2012.

George R, Craig F. Palliative care for young people with cancer. Canc Forum. 2009 Mar;33(1):28-33.


  1. Kirk S, Fraser C. Hospice support and the transition to adult services and adulthood for young people with life-limiting conditions and their families: A qualitative study. Palliat Med. 2014 Apr;28(4):342-52. Epub 2013 Oct 18.
  2. Howk T, Wasilewski-Masker K. Palliative care for adolescents and young adults: A pediatric perspective. Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology. 2011 Mar;1(1):11-2.
  3. Clark J, Fasciano K. Young adult palliative care: challenges and opportunities. Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2013 Nov 6. [Epub ahead of print]

Relevant Studies

Wein S, Pery S, Zer A. Role of palliative care in adolescent and young adult oncology. J Clin Oncol. 2010 Nov 10;28(32):4819-24. Epub 2010 Mar 8.

Knapp C, Quinn GP, Murphy D, Brown R, Madden V. Adolescents with life-threatening illnesses. Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2010 Mar;27(2):139-44. Epub 2010 Jan 22.

Lemmens C. End-of-life decisions and minors: do minors have the right to refuse life preserving medical treatment? a comparative study. Med Law. 2009 Sep;28(3):479-97.

Freyer DR. Care of the dying adolescent: special considerations. Pediatrics. 2004 Feb;113(2):381-8.


Last updated 17 February 2015