Parents of children with cancer: a study of factors related to their psychological wellbeing

A diagnosis of cancer not only affects the patient, it also greatly affects the family caregivers. The physical and emotional effects of caring for a loved one with cancer can be devastating, with fatigue and burn-out a frequent occurrence. Dr. Anne Klassen is studying factors affecting the wellbeing of parent caregivers of children with cancer, with a specific interest in the direct and indirect relationships and supports that may contribute to differences in psychological wellbeing among these parents. Her study is recruiting a population-based sample, from British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario, of approximately 500 families with children in active treatment for cancer. She is collecting data on a comprehensive set of factors, including background and context variables; child characteristics; caregiver strain; caregiver self-perception; coping factors and psychological wellbeing. Results from Dr. Klassen’s research will further the understanding of why some parents are able to cope with caring for a child with cancer while others cannot. Ultimately this research will help with earlier recognition of families at risk and the development of preventive or other strategies to better meet their needs, for the benefit of children, parents and families.