Listening through narratives: using a narrative approach when discussing fertility preservation options with young cancer patients

S.I.G. Roher, J. Gibson, B.E. Gibson, A.A. Gupta


Despite clinical practice guideline recommendations mandating that fertility preservation be discussed with young cancer patients, many providers fail to initiate such discussions with adolescents. Researchers and clinicians often focus on system-level changes to improve access to fertility preservation for adolescents and young adults in Canada. However, little of the available information considers the way in which health care providers approach those discussions.

Research has shown that, even when fertility preservation options are broached with adolescents, survivors often report dissatisfaction with those conversations, thus raising additional concerns about their content and quality. Here, we consider how a narrative approach—and the Frank narrative typology in particular—could improve the quality of such conversations by helping providers to more accurately and thoughtfully respond to the needs of adolescent patients when discussing the possibility of fertility preservation. Based on findings from a qualitative research project, we provide concrete suggestions for how to more sensitively approach fertility preservation conversations with male adolescent cancer patients and survivors.


Fertility preservation; adolescent and young adult oncology; narrative medicine; patient-centred care

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ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)