Parents of Children with Cancer Psychological Long-Term Consequences and Development of a Psychological Treatment for Parents of Survivors
Abstract: The aims of this thesis were to increase the knowledge about the long-term psychological consequences in parents of children diagnosed with cancer, including parents of childhood cancer survivors (CCSs) and bereaved parents, and to take the first steps towards developing a psychological treatment for parents of CCSs.Study I was a systematic review synthesizing the literature on psychological long-term consequences in parents of CCSs. Study II had a longitudinal design assessing posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) from shortly after the child’s diagnosis (T1, N=259) up to five years after end of the child’s treatment or death (T7, n=169). Study I and II concluded that while most parents show resilience in the long-term, a subgroup report high levels of general distress and/or PTSS. In Study III, interview data from the last assessment in the longitudinal project (T7, n=168) was used. Participants described particularly negative and/or positive experiences in relation to their child’s cancer, and results pointed to the wide range of such experiences involved in parenting a child with cancer. In Study IV and V, parents of CCSs reporting cancer-related psychological distress were included (N=15). In Study IV, a conceptualization of this distress was generated by aggregation of individual behavioral case formulations. The conceptualization consisted of two separate but overlapping paths describing development and maintenance of symptoms of traumatic stress and depressive symptoms. In Study V, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) based on the individual case formulations were preliminarily evaluated in an open trial. The CBT appeared feasible, and at post-assessment participants reported significant decreases in PTSS (p<.001), depression (p<.001), and anxiety (p<.01) with medium to large effect sizes (Cohen’s d=0.65-0.92).Findings indicate that psychological long-term consequences in parents of children with cancer consist of a broad range of negative as well as positive experiences, and that while most parents show resilience in the long-term, a subgroup report high levels of psychological distress. For parents of CCSs this distress is suggested to primarily consist of symptoms of traumatic stress and depression, and a preliminary evaluation of CBT targeting hypothesized maintaining mechanisms showed promise in terms of feasibility and treatment effect.
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE WHOLE DISSERTATION. (in PDF format)