Impact of caring for a child with cancer on single parents compared with parents from two-parent families
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BACKGROUND: It is currently unknown how the intensive and often prolonged treatment of childhood cancer impacts on the lives of single parents. Our aims were to determine whether single parents differ from parents from two-parent families in terms of caregiver demand (the time and effort involved in caregiving), and health-related quality of life (HRQL). PROCEDURES: Forty single parents and 275 parents from two-parent families were recruited between November 2004 and February 2007 from five pediatric oncology centers in Canada. Parents were asked to complete a questionnaire booklet composed of items and scales to measure caregiver demand and HRQL (SF-36). The booklet also measured the following constructs: background and context factors, child factors, caregiving strain, intrapsychic factors, and coping factors. RESULTS: Single parents did not differ from parents from two-parent families in caregiving demand and physical and psychosocial HRQL. Compared with Canadian population norms for the SF-36, both groups reported clinically important differences (i.e., worse health) in psychosocial HRQL (effect size ≥ -2.00), while scores for physical HRQL were within one standard deviation of population norms. CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that the impact of caregiving on single parents, in terms of caregiving demand and HRQL is similar to that of parents from two-parent families.
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