Parenting experiences of cancer patients with minor children and their conversations about the possibility of death: a cross-sectional web-based survey for an online cancer community

Yuko Usui, Kazuhiro Kosugi, Yohei Nishiguchi, Tomofumi Miura, Daisuke Fujisawa, Yuko Uehara, Takashi Kawaguchi, Kayo Izumi, Jun Takehana, Yoshihisa Matsumoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Many cancer patients with minor children experience difficulty talking about their illness with their children. This study aimed to investigate the parenting experiences of cancer patients with minor children and their conversations about the possibility of death. Methods: A cross-sectional web-based survey was conducted between April and May 2019. Cancer patients with at least one child aged < 18 years were recruited from an online peer support group called “Cancer Parents.” The participants were asked to complete a questionnaire about their experiences of talking about their illnesses with their children. The participants were classified into those who disclosed their cancer to their children (“disclosing group”), and those who did not disclose (“non-disclosing group”). The association between whether they talked with their children about their cancer, and whether it included conversations about the possibility of death, was examined. Results: A total of 370 parents participated (with 80.8% female parents, with a median age of 43.0 years). The disclosing group (n = 274, 74.1%) wanted to know what their child felt, more than the non-disclosing group did (p < 0.001). Members of the non-disclosing group had a greater tendency than those in the disclosing group to report that they did not want their children to see their suffering (p = 0.002) and did not know how to explain their disease status (p < 0.002). Some members of both the disclosing (42.1%) and non-disclosing (6.5%) groups told their children about the possibility of death. Conclusion: This study showed that 74.1% of the patients with minor children disclosed their cancer to their children. The parents’ feelings when thinking about interacting with their children differed significantly between the disclosing and non-disclosing groups. It is important for healthcare professionals treating patients with cancer to provide appropriate multidisciplinary support for discussing their diagnosis and prognosis with their children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7715-7720
Number of pages6
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Volume30
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Sep

Keywords

  • Cancer parents
  • Cancer patients
  • Communication about death
  • Minor children

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

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