Psychosocial functioning in parents of adult survivors of childhood cancer.
BACKGROUND: Although significant progress has been made in identifying long-term sequelae for adult survivors of childhood cancer, comparatively little attention has been paid to the functioning of their parents. In a previous study, we observed that a majority of adult survivors are accompanied to clinic visits by at least 1 parent, suggesting ongoing concern for their children's health. In the current study, we explore psychologic stressors that characterize this population and might account for this finding. PROCEDURE: Responses to measures of psychosocial functioning (ie, Brief Symptom Inventory, Impact on Family Scale, Impact of Events Scale, Parent Experience of Child Illness Scale) were compared between 27 parents of adult survivors (mean age=25.6 y) of pediatric cancer and 28 parents of current pediatric cancer patients (mean age=10.2 y) on, or within 1 year of, active treatment. RESULTS: Compared with parents of pediatric cancer patients on treatment, parents of adult survivors demonstrated few significant differences in overall psychologic functioning, posttraumatic stress symptoms, and adjustment to the disease experience. Indeed, the 2 groups differed only in their report of objective and family burden (eg, financial cost, time off from work, less time with family members), and in their levels of anger associated with the illness experience. CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that parents who continue to accompany their adult child to clinic may remain psychologically vulnerable many years after the end of treatment, and that the impact of having a child with a life-threatening illness may not diminish even years into the child's survivorship.
Hardy, KK; Bonner, MJ; Masi, R; Hutchinson, KC; Willard, VW; Rosoff, PM
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