Ovarian Cancer Canada

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Understanding the health impact of caregiving



A qualitative study of immigrant parents and single parents of children with cancer

Purpose: Research looking at the health of parents of children with cancer typically uses outcome measures focused on symptoms of anxiety, depression, or posttraumatic stress. Our team builds on this literature to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the health impact of caregiving.

Methods: Interviews were conducted with 79 Canadian parents of children with cancer at least 6 months postdiagnosis. Line-by-line coding was used to establish categories and themes. Constant comparison was used to examine relationships within and across codes and categories. Interviewing continued until no new themes emerged.

Results: Parents described health concerns as including sleep disturbance, daytime fatigue, anxiety, depression, social isolation, and changes in social roles. Parents described the positive impacts of caregiving as including gaining a greater appreciation for child and family and developing compassion, empathy, patience, inner strength, and new perspectives on life.

Conclusion: Parents of children with cancer can experience a range of health problems due to the emotional impact of a cancer diagnosis and the intensive and often prolonged nature of treatment and aftercare. Given the central role parents play as caregivers, it is crucial to understand the health impact of caregiving so that supportive interventions can be implemented as necessary.

Klassen, Anne F. Gulati, Sonia Granek, Leeat Rosenberg-Yunger, Zahava R. S. Watt, Lisa Sung, Lillian Klaassen, Robert Dix, David Shaw, Nicola T. ; Quality of Life Research: An International Journal of Quality of Life Aspects of Treatment, Care & Rehabilitation, Vol 21(9), Nov, 2012. pp. 1595-1605.

For more information please visit BC Cancer Agency;



This entry was posted on January 31, 2013 by in For family members and caregivers.

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