Cancer families with children: factors associated with family functioning—a comparative study in Finland

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Objective:The objective is to examine the factors associated with family functioning in families with children where a parent has cancer in comparison to families without cancer.Sample and methods:Eighty-five families including 85 cancer patients, 61 healthy spouses and 68 children between 11 and 17 years of age, and a control group of 59 families including 105 adults and 65 children were given a set of questionnaires including a background variable questionnaire, the Family Assessment Device, the Beck Depression Inventory and the Sense of Coherence (SOC). A statistical multilevel model allowing the use of data from several informants belonging to the same family was constructed for the analysis of associations between variables.Results:Maternal depression and SOC of family members were associated with family functioning; maternal depression impaired family functioning and family members' SOC improved it. No difference was found between the clinical group and the control group.Conclusion:In clinical work with cancer families with children, maternal depression and SOC should be focused on.

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