Parenting a child with cancer: a couple-based approach.
Couples co-parenting a child with cancer face significant stressors that can adversely affect their couple relationship. How parents respond as a couple may affect the psychological adjustment of each parent and the child, as well as the ability of the family to cope with the child's illness. The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility and acceptability of a couple-based intervention for parents of children with cancer. We conducted a randomized pilot intervention study (N = 21 couples randomized with a 2:1 allocation to the couple-based intervention or education control) testing a six-session, telephone-based intervention that trained couples in relationship skills to help them care for their child, strengthen their relationship, and support each other. We examined feasibility and acceptability of the intervention to the parents. In this study, 56% of eligible couples agreed to participate; 82% of randomized couples completed post-intervention surveys, and 62% completed all six sessions. Satisfaction with the intervention was high (mean = 3.3 on a 4-point scale). Changes in both groups were small in magnitude and mixed in direction, with some outcomes favoring the couple-based intervention and other favoring the education condition. Supporting couples is important to optimize individual and parental functioning when a child has cancer. However, there are significant challenges to delivering couple-based interventions to these parents. More research is needed to establish optimal timing and content of couple-based interventions for these parents as well as feasible methods of delivery.
Porter, LS; Baucom, DH; Bonner, M; Linardic, C; Kazak, AE
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