Pediatric brain tumor patients: their parents' perceptions of the hospital experience.
Studies have shown that admission to the hospital of a child can induce feelings of fear and helplessness in parents, challenging usual patterns of coping and parenting competence. Stress has been associated with parents' need to establish effective communication with staff and their need for information, ready access to their children, and participation in decision making relating to their child's care. This study of coping and adjustment was undertaken with the parents, including mothers and fathers, of children under 18 years of age diagnosed with a brain tumor, presenting at Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, between 2001 and 2002 (N=53). It was a prospective study using repeated measures over time. Participants in the study were involved in a questionnaire interview at 4 different points: at the time of diagnosis, 6 months postdiagnosis, 1 year postdiagnosis, and 2 years postdiagnosis, in which they were asked, among other things, about their experience of the hospital. The point of diagnosis was marked by a high level of dependence, with parents coping with rapid decision making and shock, and the surrender of care of their child. Parents identified high levels of information need but noted that they were often too stressed to take in information early on, and that this information need persisted up to the 2-year postdiagnosis point. More parents expressed dissatisfaction with the hospital and particularly with their interactions with the health care team at the 6-month post-diagnosis period, reflecting a possible reduction in attention given to families once they had settled into the treatment routine and the crisis of diagnosis had passed.
Jackson, AC; Stewart, H; O'Toole, M; Tokatlian, N; Enderby, K; Miller, J; Ashley, D
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