The perceived effect of parental cancer on children still living at home: According to oncology health professionals

Elise Alexander, Moira O’Connor, Georgia K. B. Halkett

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5 Citations (Scopus)


How children are affected by their parent's diagnosis is limited in the literature, and children are typically not considered in current clinical practice. Despite suggestion that the patient's oncology team are well placed to support their children, this is yet to be sufficiently explored. This study aimed to explore how oncology healthcare professionals (HPs) perceive children are affected by a parent's diagnosis of cancer.

This qualitative study was informed by principles of grounded theory and embedded within a social constructivist framework. 15 health professionals working in oncology were interviewed using a semi-structured format. Data were analysed using methods of constant comparison.

From the perspective of HPs, when a parent is diagnosed with cancer, their dependent children are rendered invisible. Factors within the (a) clinical healthcare system and (b) the families’ psychosocial context were identified, which contribute to the invisibility of children.

HPs are well-placed to facilitate an entry point into the healthcare system for patients’ children; however, this is not occurring due to children's lack of visibility. Clinical and psychosocial barriers need to be addressed to ensure HPs are visibly aware of all children and thus able to appropriately support, intervene or refer on.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13321
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer Care
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


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