Gender differences in the psychosocial experience of parents of children with cancer: a review of the literature


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Abstract

Objective:To build a descriptive literature base of investigated and identified gender differences in the psychosocial experience of parents of children with cancer, in order to guide future research in this area.Methods:An extensive literature search was conducted using Medline, PsycINFO, CINAHL and EMBASE databases. Thirty papers were included in the review. Themes from these papers were identified, and on this basis, the review findings were grouped according to five main outcome categories: role perceptions, illness beliefs, psychological distress, coping strategies and perceptions of marital, family and child functioning.Results:Few gender differences were found in perceptions of marital, family and child functioning. There was a tendency toward traditional gender roles in the division of parental tasks. Findings in relation to parent psychological distress and preferred coping strategies were mixed, with trends toward increased distress, more emotion-focused coping and greater social support-seeking in mothers.Conclusions:Further studies using longitudinal designs with solid theoretical groundings will provide valuable information on the unique psychosocial experiences of mothers and fathers throughout the child's illness, which may in turn guide the development of evidence-based interventions. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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