Transition or transfer? An experiential perspective on moving from paediatric to adult cancer services

  • Lisa McCann

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This thesis explores the experiences of young people who are survivors of childhood cancer, their parents, health care professionals (HCPs), and case note documentation, of the process of transition from paediatric to adult cancer services. A qualitative, collective case study approach (Stake, 1995), informed by a constructivist-interpretive position, allowed exploration of the multiple realities prioritised in this study. Whilst there is a significant body of literature relating to transition for conditions such as rheumatology and cystic fibrosis, there is little research undertaken into transition in a cancer context, specifically so from an experiences perspective. This study aimed to re-address this issue.

    The experiences of twelve young people were explored in this study. This resulted in the participation of twelve cases, meaning a total of 35 individual, semi-structured interviews were conducted with young people, parents and HCPs. Young people’s case notes (22 sets) were also reviewed. Data were analysed using matrix-based approaches advocated by Miles and Huberman (1994), at both the within- and between-case level. This generated a multi-dimensional and multiple perspective understanding of the experience of the process of transition.

    The results of this study clearly identified a central orienting theme: The experience of readiness in the context of transition. Three main themes and six sub-themes were also identified within the data, supporting the explanatory power of the orienting theme. The main themes identified were: The experience of childhood cancer; Planning and preparation: Transition or transfer?; and A process of change.

    The findings demonstrate that understanding the multi-faceted components of readiness is crucial in understanding people’s experiences of readiness. Readiness should embody people’s illness experiences, the numerous and associated losses intertwined with a move from paediatric to adult care and the simultaneous developmental changes occurring in people’s lives. Only by doing so shall a meaningful understanding of the experience of the process of transition for survivors of childhood cancer, their parents and health care professionals be developed.

    The thesis concludes by making recommendations for future research and clinical practice.
    Date of Award2012
    Original languageEnglish
    SponsorsChief Scientist Office
    SupervisorNora Kearney (Supervisor) & Yvonne Wengström (Supervisor)


    • Cancer Care
    • Transition
    • Experiences
    • Survivors of childhood cancer
    • Qualitative

    Cite this