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Parent distress in childhood cancer: a comparative evaluation of posttraumatic stress symptoms, depression and anxiety.
Karolinska institutet, inst f kvinnors och barns hälsa.
2008 (English)In: Acta Oncologica, ISSN 0284-186X, E-ISSN 1651-226X, Vol. 47, no 2, 267-274 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim was to assess symptoms consistent with posttraumatic stress (PTS; cognitive intrusions, avoidance, arousal) related to the child's illness, and generic distress (anxiety, depression) in parents of childhood cancer patients. Outcomes were compared to normative and relevant reference data, and analysed for their dependence on time passed since diagnosis. Swedish parents (266 mothers, 208 fathers) were recruited at two centres. Data from a clinical sample of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients and parents of healthy children were used for comparison. The Impact of Events Scale (IES-R) was used for assessing PTS symptoms, and self-report scales for anxiety and depression. Elevated stress and generic distress varied as a function of time from diagnosis. Up to 12% of parents for whom >5 years had passed since diagnosis still reported equally, or more intrusive thoughts, avoidance and arousal when contrasted to patients suffering from PTSD. Parents of recently diagnosed children had more cancer-related intrusive thoughts than those of long-term survivors. Heightened anxiety and depression was most prominent in mothers and fathers up to 2.5 years after diagnosis. In conclusion, severe generic distress characterises the first years after diagnosis, and initially common PTS symptoms are found in a considerable portion of parents years after diagnosis. Clinically, attention should be paid to continuous parent support needs. Individual variation vis-à-vis distress vulnerability should be acknowledged, and presupposed gender differences avoided. When treatment situation asks the most of parents' collaboration, many are under pressure of severe stress.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 47, no 2, 267-274 p.
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-140097DOI: 10.1080/02841860701558773PubMedID: 17851875OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-140097DiVA: diva2:382914
Available from: 2011-01-03 Created: 2011-01-03 Last updated: 2011-01-03

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Norberg, Annika Lindahl
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