End of Life Communication among Caregivers of Children with Cancer: A Qualitative Approach to Understanding Support Desired By Families

Title

End of Life Communication among Caregivers of Children with Cancer: A Qualitative Approach to Understanding Support Desired By Families

Creator

Kenney AE; Bedoya SZ; Gerhardt CA; Young-Saleme T; Wiener L

Publisher

Palliative and Supportive Care

Date

2021

Subject

Communication; Caregiver; End of life; Pediatric; Oncology

Description

OBJECTIVES: Clinicians and parents are encouraged to have open and honest communication about end of life with children with cancer, yet there remains limited research in this area. We examined family communication and preferred forms of support among bereaved caregivers of children with cancer. METHODS: Bereaved caregivers were recruited through a closed social media group to complete an online survey providing retrospective reports of end of life communication with their child and preferences for communication support from health-care providers. The sample of 131 participants was mostly female (77.9%; n = 102) with an average age of 49.15 (SD = 8.03) years. Deceased children were of an average age of 12.42 years (SD = 6.01) and nearly 90% of children died within 5 years of diagnosis. RESULTS: Most caregivers spoke with their child about their prognosis (61.8%; n = 131) and death (66.7%; n = 99). Half of children (48%; n = 125) asked about death, particularly older children (51.9% ≥12 years; p = 0.03). Asking about dying was related to having conversations about prognosis (p ≤ 0.001) and death (p ≤ 0.001). Most caregivers (71.8%; n = 94) wanted support to talk to their children. Fewer wanted providers to speak to children directly (12.2%; n = 16) or to be present while caregivers spoke to the child (19.8%; n = 26). Several themes emerged from a content analysis of open-ended responses regarding preferences for provider support. SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: Most caregivers discussed issues pertaining to end of life irrespective of demographic or medical factors. Qualitative themes provide insight into support desired by families to help with these difficult conversations.

Rights

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Citation List Month

2021 Special Edition - Oncology

Citation

Kenney AE; Bedoya SZ; Gerhardt CA; Young-Saleme T; Wiener L, “End of Life Communication among Caregivers of Children with Cancer: A Qualitative Approach to Understanding Support Desired By Families,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed June 18, 2024, https://pedpalascnetlibrary.omeka.net/items/show/18974.