Parents of children with cancer: Which factors explain differences in health-related quality of life
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Research with parents of children with cancer has identified factors related to their adjustment and coping, but it is not fully understood why some parents do well and others do not. Guided by a stress process model, we examined the interrelationships among a comprehensive set of factors to identify the most important determinants of health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in parents of children in active treatment for cancer. A cross-sectional survey of 411 parents (80% response rate) of children receiving cancer treatment in Canada was conducted between November 2004 and February 2007. The following constructs were measured: background and context factors, child characteristics, family-centered service delivery, caregiver strain, intrapsychic factors, coping/supportive factors and parental HRQoL. The model was evaluated using structural equation modeling. Analysis was stratified by time since diagnosis (i.e., <12 months and ≥12 months). For those within 12 months of their child's diagnosis, family-centred service provision, caregiver strain, and self-perception accounted for 58% of the variation in psychosocial health, whereas caregiver strain and social support explained 50% of the variation in physical health. For parents in the >12 month group, caregiving strain was the only factor with a direct relationship with parental psychosocial and physical health, accounting for 66% and 55% of the variance in these constructs, respectively. Our findings reinforce the need for health professionals to be particularly attuned to family caregivers in the early stages of treatment and identify potential areas for interventions to promote parental health.
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