Parenting concerns, quality of life, and psychological distress in patients with advanced cancer

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Objective:Parents with life-limiting illness anticipate the loss of their parental role and the long-term consequences of their illness on their children. The purpose of this study was to examine relationships between parenting concerns, quality of life (QOL), and symptoms of depression and anxiety in parents with advanced cancer who have dependent children.Methods:Sixty-three parents diagnosed with a Stage IV solid malignancy completed the Hospital Anxiety Depression Scale (HADS), Parenting Concerns Questionnaire (PCQ), and Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy—General (FACT-G). The Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Survey (social support) and Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status were assessed as potential covariates. We performed descriptive statistics and multivariable linear regression models for depression, anxiety, and QOL measures.Results:Mean PCQ score was 2.3 (SD 0.9), reflecting mild to moderate parenting concerns. Average depression and anxiety scores were 6.0 (SD 4.2) and 8.2 (SD 3.9), respectively. PCQ scores were associated with depressive symptoms (r= 0.46,p< 0.001), anxiety symptoms (r= 0.52,p< 0.0001), and QOL scores (r= −0.60,p< 0.001). The relationship of PCQ scores to anxiety symptoms (B= 1.5p= 0.016) and QOL (B= −5.7,p= 0.02) remained significant after controlling for ECOG status, social support, and treatment status.Conclusions:Parenting concerns are associated with anxiety and depressive symptoms and worse QOL in parents diagnosed with advanced cancer. Further studies that evaluate how parental status affects coping and psychological distress in advanced cancer are needed.

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