PURPOSE: To assess parents' ability to absorb information that their child's cancer was incurable and to identify factors associated with parents' ability to absorb this information. PATIENTS AND METHODS: An anonymous mail-in questionnaire study was performed as a population-based investigation in Sweden between August and October of 2001. 449 parents who lost a child to cancer 4-9 years earlier (response rate 80%) completed the survey. 191 (43%) of the bereaved parents were fathers and 251 (56%) were mothers. RESULTS: Sixty percent of parents (n = 258) reported that they were able to absorb the information that their child's illness was incurable. Parents were better able to absorb this information when the information was given in an appropriate manner (RR 1.6; CI 1.3-2.0), when they shared their problems with others during the child's illness course (RR 1.4; CI 1.1-1.8) and when they had no history of depression (RR 1.3; CI 1.0-1.8). Parents who reported that they were able to absorb the information were more likely to have expressed their farewells to the child in their desired manner (RR 1.3; CI 1.0-1.5). CONCLUSIONS: Parents who received information that their child's illness was incurable in an appropriate manner are more likely to absorb that information. Whether or not parents are able to absorb the information that their child's cancer is incurable has implications in terms of preparation for the child's impending death.
Several studies have suggested that religion and spirituality are important for overcoming psychological distress and adjusting mentally to cancer, but these studies did not differentiate between spiritual well-being and specific aspects of faith. We examined the extent to which spiritual well-being, the faith dimension of spiritual well-being and aspects of performed faith are associated with distress and mental adjustment among cancer patients.
In a cross-sectional design, 1043 survivors of various cancers filled in a questionnaire on spiritual well-being (FACIT-Sp-12), specific aspects of faith ('belief in a god', 'belief in a god with whom I can talk' and 'experiences of god or a higher power'), religious community and church attendance (DUREL), distress (POMS-SF), adjustment to cancer (Mini-MAC) and sociodemographic factors. Linear regression models were used to analyze the associations between exposure (spiritual well-being and specific faith aspects) and outcome (distress and adjustment to cancer) with adjustment for age, gender, cancer diagnosis and physical and social well-being.
Higher spiritual well-being was associated with less total distress (ß = -0.79, CI -0.92; -0.66) and increased adjustment to cancer (fighting spirit, anxious preoccupation, helplessness-hopelessness). Specific aspects of faith were associated with high confusion-bewilderment and tension-anxiety, but also lower score on vigor-activity, and with higher anxious-preoccupation, both higher and lower cognitive avoidance, but also more fighting spirit.
As hypothesized, spiritual well-being were associated with less distress and better mental adjustment. However, specific aspects of faith were both positively and negatively associated with distress and mental adjustment. The results illustrate the complexity of associations between spiritual well-being and specific aspects of faith with psychological function among cancer survivors.
Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society/Division of Social Work, Karolinska Institutet, 141 83, Huddinge, Sweden; Department of Health Care Sciences/Palliative Research Centre, Ersta Sköndal Bräcke University College, Box 11189, 100 61, Stockholm, Sweden; Function Area in Social Work and Health, Karolinska University Hospital, 171 76, Stockholm, Sweden. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The knowledge about young adults who have lost a parent to cancer is limited, and to reach a broader understanding about this group, this study used the Dual Process Model of Coping with Bereavement (Stroebe and Schut, 1999) as a theoretical framework. The purpose of this study was to describe loss- and restoration-oriented bereavement stressors and psychosocial wellbeing of young adults following the loss of a parent to cancer.
This survey used baseline data from a longitudinal study. Young adults, aged 16-28 years, who lost a parent to cancer more than two months earlier and agreed to participate in support groups held at three palliative care services in Sweden, responded to a comprehensive theory-based study-specific questionnaire.
Altogether, 77 young adults (64 women and 13 men) answered the questionnaire an average of five-to-eight months after the loss. Twenty percent (n?=?15) had not been aware of their parent's impending death at all or only knew a few hours before the death, and 65% (n?=?50) did not expect the death when it occurred. The young adults reported low self-esteem (n?=?58, 76%), mild to severe anxiety (n?=?55, 74%), mild to severe depression (n?=?23, 31%) and low life satisfaction.
Young adults reported overall poor psychosocial wellbeing following bereavement. The unexpectedness and unawareness of the parent's imminent death, i.e., loss-oriented bereavement stressors, might influence psychosocial wellbeing. Despite these reports, restoration-oriented stressors, such as support from family and friends, helped them to cope with the loss.
551 patients were diagnosed with breast cancer in Tampere University Hospital district, Finland between 1977 and 1980. The number of follow-up visits during the first 5 years was 8248. The biological, physical, mental and social dimensions of breast cancer were measured by death, recurrence of disease, Karnofsky score, physical or mental symptoms, and sick leave. The prevalence rates of an event and the incidence rates of the appearance or disappearance of an event were used to determine the indicators for these different dimensions of breast cancer. The study was based on hospital case notes. Data on death, recurrence, sick leave and Karnofsky score were well recorded, but physical or mental symptoms were recorded infrequently. There was a 4-fold difference between the highest and lowest prevalence for the different dimensions, but the trends were similar by follow-up time. The variation was also large for the incidence rates but the trends differed with length of follow-up time. The biological, physical, mental and social consequences of breast cancer differ in magnitude and have different trends over time, indicating that breast cancer is a different disease depending on the dimension and on the indicator under consideration.
To describe and analyze how women with breast cancer experience breathing adapted radiation therapy (BART) and to explore how women manage daily radiation therapy.
Individual interviews were conducted with 20 women treated with BART for breast cancer concerning their perception of radiation therapy. The transcribed interviews were analyzed using qualitative content analysis.
'The breath of life' was the overall theme, as the women experienced the breathing as a way in which to influence their treatment and thus their survival. 'Participating in one's treatment, for good or ill', was the main category with four subcategories, 'Knowing one has done something good', 'Getting an extra bonus - healthwise', 'The experience of being in control' and 'Being in a high-technology environment'. The breathing technique became the strategy by which they could manage their treatment and gave them a sense of participation which led to a feeling of being in control. The women also felt that breathing benefited their health both mentally and physically. The high-technology environment was experienced as both hopeful and frightening.
Survival or increasing the chances of survival, are of ultimate importance for a woman with breast cancer. BART requires commitment from the women, which was perceived as offering them an opportunity to participate in their own treatment, for their survival. Increasing the women's possibilities to participate in their treatment benefits their health and welfare during an otherwise turbulent time and allow the rehabilitation process to start during treatment.
Psychological stress has been suggested to shorten cancer survival, but few studies have examined the effect of parental bereavement, and the results have been inconsistent. We identified all 21 062 parents who lost a child in Denmark from 1980 to 1996 and among them, 1630 parents with subsequent incident cancer formed the exposed cohort. We recruited 6237 incident cancer patients from a group of 293 745 randomly selected unexposed parents matched on family structure at the same time as the bereaved parents. All incident cancers in the two cohorts were followed to the end of 1997, or until they died. Cox proportional-hazards regression models were used to evaluate the hazard ratio (HR) of dying in exposed parents with cancer. The overall HR of dying from an incident cancer in exposed parents was 1.23 (95% confidence interval 1.03-1.47) compared to parents with cancer who did not lose a child. The HRs were nearly identical to those in the unexposed parents for site-specific cancers like lung cancer, breast cancer, and other groups of cancers like cancers in all digestive organs, smoking-related cancers, alcohol-related cancers, hormone-related cancers, virus/immune-related cancers, and lymphatic/haematopoietic cancers. Death of a child is not a strong prognostic factor for cancer survival among parents diagnosed with cancer after the bereavement. However, a small impairment in overall cancer survival cannot be ruled out.