Parent perceptions of managing child behavioural side-effects of cancer treatment: a qualitative study


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Abstract

BackgroundVery little research has examined the role of parenting in managing behavioural side-effects of cancer treatment. The purpose of this paper was to explore parent perceptions of (a) parenting in the context of childhood cancer; (b) the parenting strategies used in the context of managing child behavioural side-effects of cancer treatment; and (c) the perceived impact that cancer-specific parenting strategies have on child behaviour.MethodsParticipants were 15 mothers of children aged 2–6 years in the maintenance phase of treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia at the Royal Children's Hospital Children's Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Australia. Mothers participated in a one-on-one semi-structured telephone interview using an interview guide which included questions on parenting in the context of childhood cancer, specifically in relation to behavioural side-effects (problems with behaviour, sleep and eating) and any perceived impact cancer-specific parenting may have on the ill child.ResultsMany parents reported that following their child's cancer diagnosis, they had to implement a suite of ‘new’ strategies that ‘pre-diagnosis’ were used only in moderation, if at all. The most salient theme that emerged was parents' perception that their parenting became more lax since their child's diagnosis. Parents further reported specific parenting strategies for each of the main child behavioural side-effects of cancer treatment.ConclusionData from the current qualitative exploratory study highlight the role of specific parenting strategies in managing or assisting child behavioural side-effects of cancer treatment. Further quantitative research is needed to more fully examine the association between parenting and child behavioural outcomes in order to develop modifiable approaches to improving child behavioural side-effects in a paediatric oncology context.

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