Pschychosocial support for distressed parents of Pediatric cancer patients
Parental stress and childhood cancers
Survival rates for childhood cancer diagnosed before the age of 18 years have improved due to aggressive multidisciplinary therapeutic approaches. Parents have been found to be psychologically affected by their child’s diagnosis, treatment, side-effects of the treatment and child’s health status. Though parental emotional difficulties, such as depression and anxiety, have been reported to decrease after cancer treatment, parents continue to experience chronic post-traumatic stress (PTS) for a long time after their child’s treatment. Parents may also report persistent feelings of loss, uncertainty, and anxiety about the recurrence of the disease or the emergence of late effects in their child. Such illness-specific distress of the parents should be assessed in order to fully understand their psychosocial functioning. Sensitizing health care professionals to the identification of this factor and its associated difficulties is essential for the implementation of efficient intervention strategies. General health of parents plays an important role in continuation of care for the sick child and the treatment follow up. Parental distress and PTS are associated with the emotional and behavioral functioning of children with cancer. There is a genuine need to offer programs of psychological attention to parents of children with cancer in order to reduce their emotional and cognitive psychopathology and to help them adopt adequate coping strategies.