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Parents’ views on what facilitated or complicated their grief after losing a child to cancer
Ersta Sköndal Bräcke University College, Department of Health Care Sciences, Palliative Research Centre, PRC.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4142-5967
Ersta Sköndal Bräcke University College, Department of Health Care Sciences, Palliative Research Centre, PRC. Uppsala universitet.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5523-8126
Ersta Sköndal Bräcke University College, Department of Health Care Sciences, Palliative Research Centre, PRC. Karolinska institutet.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8185-781X
Ersta Sköndal Bräcke University College, Department of Health Care Sciences, Palliative Research Centre, PRC. Karolinska institutet.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4736-500X
2021 (English)In: Palliative & Supportive Care, ISSN 1478-9515, E-ISSN 1478-9523, Vol. 19, no 5, p. 524-529Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objectives: The loss of a child is a devastating event, and bereaved parents often suffer intense and long-lasting grief reactions and are at risk for psychological symptoms. More knowledge about how parents cope with grief may improve the support to bereaved parents. This study, therefore, aimed to explore parents' views on what facilitated or complicated their grief coping after losing a child to cancer.

Methods: This study was derived from a nationwide postal survey. Cancer-bereaved parents (n = 161) provided written responses to two open-ended questions: "Is there anything that has helped you cope with your grief after your child's death?" and "Is there anything that made it difficult for you to cope with your grief?" Content analysis was used to analyze the responses.

Results: Parents reported that a supportive social network of family and friends, and having remaining children, facilitated their coping with grief. Meeting professional counselors and meeting other bereaved parents, connecting to memories of the deceased child in various contexts, including school and pediatric care settings, were also reported facilitating grief coping. Parents stated that the following experiences had complicated grief coping: additional losses in their family or social network; not being able to share emotions with their partner; when they perceived that friends, relatives, or colleagues lacked empathy or patience; when they felt challenging demands from employers at a too early stage.

Significance of results: This study contributes to the understanding of parents' grief experiences and what has facilitated or complicated their coping with grief, which can help health care professionals and others improve bereavement support services.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2021. Vol. 19, no 5, p. 524-529
Keywords [en]
Bereavement, Coping, Grief, Parents, Pediatric oncology
National Category
Nursing
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:esh:diva-8005DOI: 10.1017/S1478951520001212ISI: 000721279300004PubMedID: 33239119OAI: oai:DiVA.org:esh-8005DiVA, id: diva2:1414990
Funder
Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation
Note

Publication status in dissertation: Submitted

Forskningsfinansiärer:

- Gålöstiftelsen

- Ersta Sköndal Bräcke högskola

Available from: 2020-03-16 Created: 2020-03-16 Last updated: 2022-01-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Bereaved mothers and fathers: Grief and psychological health 1 to 5 years after losing a child to cancer
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Bereaved mothers and fathers: Grief and psychological health 1 to 5 years after losing a child to cancer
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Bereaved parents often experience severe suffering and are at elevated risk for developing grief complications such as prolonged grief and other negative psychological health outcomes. The general aim of this thesis was to investigate symptoms of prolonged grief, depression, posttraumatic stress, anxiety, rumination, and sleep disturbance in parents who had lost a child to cancer 1 to5 years earlier. Attention was also given to the potential impact on the parents’grief of their experiences during the child’s illness, and finally to the parents’ views on their coping with grief. Methods: A cross-sectional design for data collection was used for all four studies in this thesis. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used for data analysis, to provide various and complementing perspectives on bereaved parents’ grief and their psychological health. Results:Bereaved parents’ symptom levels of prolonged grief and psychological symptoms were found to be elevated and neither time- nor gender-dependent across the first five years after the loss. We also found that some of the parents’experiences during their child’s illness were associated with their grief and psychological symptoms. These factors differed for mothers and fathers. Mothers valued trustful relations with health care professionals, while fathers reported better psychological health when they had received support in practical matters. Findings also showed that parents found certain factors facilitated or complicated their coping with grief. Unsurprisingly, social support promoted positive coping with grief, while a less familiar factor – going back to work – could make coping with grief harder. Clinical implications: The findings provide knowledge which can improve the care for children, through development of support to their parents in pediatric oncology contexts and in bereavement.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Ersta Sköndal Bräcke University College, 2020. p. 80
Series
Avhandlingsserie inom området Människan i välfärdssamhället, ISSN 2003-3699 ; 3
Keywords
Bereavement, grief, pediatric oncology, parents, psychological health
National Category
Nursing
Research subject
The Individual in the Welfare Society, Palliative Care
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:esh:diva-8006 (URN)978-91-985808-3-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2020-04-17, Aulan, Campus Ersta, Stigbergsgatan 30, Stockholm, 09:30 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2020-03-27 Created: 2020-03-17 Last updated: 2023-09-22Bibliographically approved

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Pohlkamp, LilianSveen, JosefinKreicbergs, UlrikaLövgren, Malin

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