Children's knowledge of cancer diagnosis and treatment: Jordanian mothers' perceptions and satisfaction with the process

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Abstract

Background:

The amount of information shared with children regarding their illness, as well as what knowledge children are entitled to know, varies widely among cultures.

Aims:

This study aims to examine mothers' accounts of communication about cancer diagnosis to their children, how much children knew about their illnesses and how satisfied the mothers were with the method they used in communicating the diagnosis.

Methods:

Using semi-structured interviews and open-ended questions, 51 mothers attending paediatric oncology clinics in Jordan were interviewed. Content analysis was used to analyse the data.

Findings:

Mothers expressed a range of views about the forms of disclosure, including being clear about the diagnosis and its treatment and being secretive yet misconceptualizing the accounts of the illness. The median age for the children diagnosed with cancer was 11 years (interquartile range 7–16 years). Most of the mothers were offered no help with talking to their children about cancer diagnosis. Mothers who found it difficult to tell the news of the diagnosis to their children finally withheld the diagnoses from them. Those same mothers were unhappy and uncomfortable with the communication method they had used with children.

Conclusion:

This study emphasized the role of nurses' interaction with their child patients diagnosed with cancer. Nurses should not have an opinion about how and what children need to know about their illness, and preferably should take an active role in the process of communication between mothers and their children. Further work and research are needed in this field.

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