By Nicole Ruppe, B.S., Jeannette Iskander, M.A., Lila Pereira, Ph.D., and Siddika Mulchan, Ph.D.
The Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Special Interest Group (SIG) was created in order to address psychosocial issues and challenges specifically related to AYAs (e.g., poor medication adherence, limited access to insurance, and increased number of AYAs transitioning to adult medical providers). The AYA SIG focuses on this vulnerable population and has four main missions:
- Promote awareness of psychosocial and health specific issues for AYAs with chronic health conditions, promote awareness of systemic issues that impact AYAs (e.g., health care transition), and promote awareness of national and federal policies related to AYA health and well-being
- Promote research focusing on AYAs and their specific needs. Bringing awareness to the development of theoretical models, validated measurement tools, and methodological approaches relevant for and focused on AYAs.
- Promote networking and collaboration among professionals focused on working with AYAs. This includes bringing together and building collaborations between pediatric psychologists, adult-based health care professionals and societies, and other disciplines focused on AYA health-care needs (e.g., transition)
- Identify and disseminate best practices and guidelines for the care of AYAs with chronic health conditions.
There are three subcommittees within the AYA SIG to help promote the mission of the group. These committees are comprised of board members and SIG members. Each committee is working on a number of projects to further clinical practice and research in the field.
- Intervention - This subcommittee is currently in the process of creating a database which will include evidence-based interventions relevant to AYAs especially around adherence, symptom management, and adjustment to chronic illness.
- Measurement- This subcommittee has been working to compile a library of measurements relevant for AYAs (e.g., transition readiness, adherence). These resources will be shared with Division 54 members through the Consult Liason SIG measurement database shortly.
- Policy - This subcommittee is working on a project to compile a list of clinically relevant transition treatment goals for integrative teams planning for transition to adult care.
- Chairs – The chairs of the AYA SIG are also active in working on a number of projects and publications aimed at improving training for providers who with with AYAs. These include creating clinical training competencies for AYA providers, identifying ethical issues faced by trainees when working with AYAs, and enhancing our training site database for programs that offer AYA specific rotations and research.
In addition to these ongoing projects, the AYA SIG also hosts webinars twice a year designed to address issues relevant to AYAs. The SIG recently hosted a Fall Webinar which featured SPPAC 2019 Poster Winners who discussed their research. This coming Spring the webinar will focus on fertility issues. The AYA SIG also disseminates a quarterly newsletter which highlights the ongoing work of the sub-committees as well as the work of AYA SIG members. Further, the AYA SIG maintains a student/trainee resource list which includes information about graduate programs, internships, and fellowships that provide AYA-specific training opportunities (please reach out if you would like your site added!).
If you are interested in joining the AYA SIG, learning more about our mission, or want to get involved in one of these ongoing projects, please e-mail Lila Pereira (Chair) or Jeannette Iskander (Chair-Elect) for more information. The AYA-SIG has a strong interest in collaborating with trainees and provides a number of opportunities for trainees at all stages to become involved with ongoing projects!