Coping With Pediatric Cancer: Strategies Employed by Children and Their Parents to Manage Cancer-Related Stressors During Treatment


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Pediatric cancer patients and their families face significant physical, emotional, and psychosocial challenges. Few studies have investigated how children manage these challenges and how parents may help in the process. This qualitative study aimed to explore common cancer-related stressors for children and to examine child coping and parental assistance in coping with these stressors during treatment. Fifteen children undergoing cancer treatment and their parents participated in semistructured interviews. Four themes emerged capturing cancer-related stressors: cancer treatment/side effects, distressing emotions, disruption in daily routines, and social challenges. Six themes emerged regarding child coping strategies that were classified within an approach/avoidance coping framework. Approach coping strategies included the following: cognitive restructuring, relaxation, practical strategies, seeking social support, and emotional expression. Distraction was the only avoidant coping strategy. Parents tended to encourage approach coping strategies (eg, cognitive restructuring, social support). Within families, few coping strategies were reported (child: M = 1.47, SD = 0.99; parent: M = 3.33, SD = 1.18), suggesting that early family-based interventions teaching coping techniques for cancer-related stressors may be beneficial.

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