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Parental preparedness for late effects and long-term quality of life in survivors of childhood cancer.

Greenzang KA, Cronin AM, Mack JW.

Abstract


BACKGROUND:

Parents of children with cancer desire information regarding the late effects of treatment. In the current study, the authors assessed parents' preparedness for late effects at least 5 years after their child's diagnosis.

METHODS:

A cross-sectional survey was conducted of all eligible parents of children with cancer between April 2004 and September 2005 at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center within 1 year of diagnosis, and a follow-up questionnaire was administered at least 5 years later.

RESULTS:

Approximately 66% of parents of children who were still living, and who were able to be contacted, completed the follow-up questionnaire (91 of 138 parents). Approximately 77% of respondents (70 of 91 respondents) were parents of disease-free survivors and 23% (21 of 91 respondents) were parents of children with recurrent disease. The majority of parents believed they were well prepared for their child's oncology treatment (87%), but fewer felt prepared for future limitations experienced by their children (70%; P = .003 using the McNemar test) or for life after cancer (62%; P<.001). On bivariable analysis among parents of disease-free survivors, parents were more likely to believe themselves to be prepared for future limitations when they also reported that communication with the oncologist helped to address worries regarding the future (odds ratio, 4.50; P = .01). At the time of diagnosis, both parents and physicians underestimated a child's risk of future limitations; 45% of parents and 39% of clinicians predicted future limitations in physical abilities, intelligence, or quality of life, but at the time of the follow-up questionnaire >5 years later, 72% of children experienced limitations in at least 1 domain.

CONCLUSIONS:

Parents believe themselves to be less prepared for survivorship than for treatment. High-quality communication may help parents to feel more prepared for life after cancer therapy. Cancer 2016. © 2016 American Cancer Society.


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