Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Parents of Children With Cancer in Jordan

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Abstract

Aim

To investigate levels of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) of those parenting children with cancer and make a comparison between mothers and fathers.

Background

Parenting a child with cancer is traumatic. Maternal and paternal roles and responsibilities change after the cancer diagnosis of their child, adding more stress to the lives of all concerned. The gender of the parent may have an effect on their PTSD. However, there is a lack of studies in Arabic countries on the differences between parents in their PTSD levels.

Methods

A sample of 416 biological parents (comprising 207 mothers and 209 fathers) of children with cancer in Jordan completed a demographic checklist and the PTSD Checklist Civilian (PCLC).

Results

There was a significant difference in PTSD levels between mothers and fathers, with mothers having significantly higher PTSD levels than fathers. The mean PTSD levels for mothers was (M = 59.68, SD = 4.86) compared to (M = 52.76, SD = 5.81) for fathers. The magnitude of the differences in the means was very large (eta squared = 0.29). Additionally, results indicated that there was a significant negative correlation between parental PTSD levels with their age and the time since their child was diagnosed with cancer (r = −0.68, r = −0.62 respectively and p < 0.001). An increase in parental PTSD levels was associated with a decrease in parental age and short time duration since the cancer diagnosis of the child.

Conclusion

The study concluded that parenting children with cancer is traumatic and mothers were at higher risk of PTSD than fathers. Risk of PTSD was found to decrease with time.

Implications for nursing EBP

Investigating differences in PTSD between mothers and fathers in Jordan may be helpful when designing interventions to reduce the risk of PTSD. An individual parental support program is important, taking into consideration that mothers are at higher risk of PTSD, and both parents need thorough attention and care.

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