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Psychological distress in parents of children treated for cancer: An explorative study
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Research group (Dept. of women´s and children´s health), Clinical Psychology in Healthcare. Sophiahemmet University, Stockholm, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4141-8692
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Research group (Dept. of women´s and children´s health), Clinical Psychology in Healthcare.
Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Research group (Dept. of women´s and children´s health), Clinical Psychology in Healthcare.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9335-9714
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2019 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 14, no 6, article id e0218860Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objective

To explore psychological distress experienced by parents who express a need for psychotherapy after curative treatment for their child's cancer.

Methods

15 parents (eight mothers and seven fathers) of children treated for cancer (median time since end of curative treatment: two years) were recruited via a pediatric oncology center. Each parent was interviewed twice and data was analyzed with inductive latent qualitative content analysis.

Results

Two overarching themes emerged. One theme, An unfamiliar and frightening situation during treatment, portrayed experiences during the treatment period, and included the sub-themes Initial reactions to the uncontrollable situation, Adjustment to the situation, and Focus on supporting the child. Another theme, Emotional struggles after end of curative treatment, portrayed experiences following curative treatment, and included the sub-themes Transitioning back to life as it was before the diagnosis, Emotional scars, Uncontrollable fears and worries of diseases, and New perspectives on life.

Conclusions

Parents of children with cancer experience existential, physical, psychological, and social struggles. They describe an unstable situation after diagnosis and having focused their attention towards protecting their child during treatment. After the end of curative treatment, they experience challenges with transitioning back to life as it was before the diagnosis and dealing with their own emotional scars and fears related to the child's cancer. The findings indicate an unmet need for psychological support among parents of children treated for cancer.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 14, no 6, article id e0218860
National Category
Psychology Cancer and Oncology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-390743DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0218860ISI: 000484894700047PubMedID: 31226159OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-390743DiVA, id: diva2:1342627
Funder
Swedish Research Council, K2015-99X-20836-08-4Swedish Cancer Society, 140790Available from: 2019-08-14 Created: 2019-08-14 Last updated: 2019-12-06Bibliographically approved

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