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      Posttraumatic stress symptoms during treatment in parents of children with cancer.

      Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology
      Adolescent, Adult, Child, Child, Preschool, Diagnosis, Differential, Disease-Free Survival, Family, psychology, Family Health, Female, Humans, Infant, Male, Neoplasms, therapy, Prevalence, Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic

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          Abstract

          The conceptualization of childhood cancer and its treatment as traumatic has gained increasing support in the growing literature on medically related posttraumatic stress. Posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) such as intrusive thoughts, physiologic arousal, and avoidance have been documented in mothers and fathers of childhood cancer survivors. In this study we investigated the presence of PTSS in parents of children currently in treatment and their association with treatment intensity and length of time since diagnosis. Mothers (N = 119) and fathers (N = 52) of children currently in treatment for a childhood malignancy completed questionnaire measures of PTSS. Outcomes on these measures were compared with a sample of parents of childhood cancer survivors from our hospital. Oncologist ratings of treatment intensity were obtained based on diagnosis, treatment modalities, and protocol number. All but one parent reported PTSS. Mean scores indicated moderate PTSS for both mothers and fathers. In families with two participating parents, nearly 80% had at least one parent with moderate-to-severe PTSS. There were minimal associations between PTSS and length of time since diagnosis. PTSS are common among parents of children currently undergoing cancer treatment. Trauma-informed psychosocial interventions can be used to help patients and families, including normalizing the experience as potentially traumatic and using evidence-based interventions that are emerging to facilitate long-term well-being.

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