First Counseling Revealing the Diagnosis of Childhood Cancer: Parent Preferences From an Indian Perspective

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The first counseling or the exchange between the physician and the parent(s) of children with cancer is of vital importance as it sets the tone for the rest of the treatment. The goal of our study was to find out the preferences among parents of Indian children with cancer regarding communication and breaking of bad news when fully informed about the diagnosis.

Materials and Methods:

A sample of 60 parents who had been counseled within 3 months from diagnosis were interviewed with a prepared questionnaire directed at eliciting their experiences with the physicians who broke the bad news to them and also suggestions to improve the exchange.


Sixty parents of children diagnosed with cancer participated in the study. All parents agreed on the importance of first counseling and asked for a second round of counseling to reinforce concepts learned during the first counseling. An overall 83% of parents wanted a comparison with another child having the same diagnosis, 57% wanted immediate or extended family to be present, and 92% did not want support staff to be present during counseling. In all, 68% of parents did not want to reveal the diagnosis to the child, 77% wanted as much information about the disease as possible, including estimated cost of treatment, and 90% wanted access to other information services and information about other centers where treatment was available.


Parents have preferences about the ways in which information is presented to them during the first counseling. Knowing these preferences will help physicians to better their ability to interact with parents in the future during first counseling and help them decide a culturally appropriate course of action.

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