The Psychosocial Burden of Families with Childhood Blood Cancer

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Abstract

Cancer is the second leading cause of death for children, and leukemias are the most common pediatric cancer diagnoses in Chile. Childhood cancer is a traumatic experience and is associated with distress, pain, and other negative experiences for patients and their families. Thus, psychosocial costs represent a large part of the overall burden of cancer. This study examines psychosocial experiences in a sample of 90 families of children with blood-related cancer in Chile. We provide a global overview of the family experience, focusing on patients, caregivers, and siblings. We find that most families report a negative impact upon diagnosis; disruptions in family dynamics; a range of negative feelings of the patient, such as depression, discouragement, and irritability; and difficulty with social lives. Additionally, they report negative effects in the relationship between the siblings of the patient and their parents, and within their caregivers’ spouse/partner relationship, as well as a worsening of the economic condition of the primary caregiver. Furthermore, over half of the families in the sample had to move due to diagnosis and/or treatment. Promoting interventions that can help patients, siblings, and parents cope with distress and promote resilience and well-being are important.

Original languageEnglish
Article number599
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Caregiver
  • Childhood cancer
  • Psychosocial cost
  • Siblings
  • Well-being

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