J Psychosoc Oncol. 2023 Jan 9:1-14. doi: 10.1080/07347332.2022.2160943. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVE: To present the initial assessment of psychosocial adaptation among Greek parents whose children were newly diagnosed with cancer amidst the turmoil of an ongoing financial crisis.
STUDY DESIGN: This prospective observational study used a quantitative approach.
PARTICIPANTS: Sixty-one parents of children with cancer treated at a large urban tertiary-care children’s hospital were prospectively recruited to participate in our study during the first week of their child’s diagnosis (2013-2016).
METHODS: The parents were asked to complete the psychosocial assessment tool (PAT 2.0), Zung Depression Scale, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and World Health Organization Quality of Life-Bref Instrument; Moreover, three female healthcare providers (the physician oncologist, the head nurse and a senior nurse) completed the relevant PAT 2.0 -Staff Perceptions questionnaire the results of which were then compared to those of the child’s parent.
FINDINGS: The majority of parents had PAT 2.0 scores indicative of increased psychosocial risk :54% were stratified into the “Targeted” (moderate risk) and 15% into the “Clinical” (highest risk) categories, whereas healthcare providers underestimated psychosocial risk in 57%-59% of the cases. The subscales that most contributed to the increased scores were Parental Stress Reaction, Family Structure and Resources, and Family Social Support. The PAT 2.0 had statistically significant correlations with most of the anxiety and depression scales, with Zung having the strongest correlation (r-value: +0.5, p-value <0.01). Our cohort presented more anxiety and depression compared to the general Greek population (14% for depression versus 2,9% for the general population and 46% for anxiety compared to 4,1%) in the years of financial recession in Greece.
CONCLUSIONS: The parents of children newly diagnosed with cancer in Greece are at increased risk for developing anxiety and depression in the years of financial recession in Greece compared to general population.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PSYCHOSOCIAL PROVIDERS: Parental stress reaction to diagnosis as well as lack of family resources and social support may contribute to this difference. Screening for psychosocial risk factors is essential for the early identification of these families and for the optimal utilization of the limited available resources in times of economic hardship.