The Study

Our study focused on responses from a population of children and young people in mainstream education rather than specifically from those receiving medical treatment for illness, living with a health condition or disability or receiving special education. This sample was chosen in order to provide some benchmark information since discussions about infertility and possible fertility preservation options sometimes have to be entered into at a time of diagnosis; that is, before any psychological, physical, emotional and cognitive changes that treatment and its effects may bring about (Eiser 1993). The fieldwork was located in seven schools in the north of England and involved 98 pupils from School Years 6-11 (10-16 years of age).

In researching understandings and perspectives we were keen to explore these questions:

• Are children and young people aware that some people cannot have children?

• Do they have any knowledge of possible causes and treatments?

• What are the sources of the above knowledge?

• Are they aware of the possible emotional consequences of being unable to have children?

• What ideas do they have about how people who can't have children might feel?

In order to inform the development of appropriate psycho-social interventions for those diagnosed with cancer or other relevant populations, we were also keen to find out:

• how they think a child or young person being offered fertility preservation might feel

• what they think they might want to know

• who they think they might want to speak to

• whether they understand the vocabulary used by adults in health settings.

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