Eur J Pediatr. 2023 Oct 21. doi: 10.1007/s00431-023-05266-9. Online ahead of print.
Cancer as a whole, but especially childhood cancer, creates a number of psychological, social, and family problems as well as practical and financial issues, which every parent is called upon to solve. This study focuses on childhood cancer and aims at a thorough analysis of the physical/organic, psychological, and social problems associated with the parents and relatives of a child with cancer. The special element in pediatric neoplasms is not only the vulnerable population target group, but also the set of secondary effects it has on the environment of the sick child. The research was conducted on a sample of 133 families of children with cancer, and the results were displayed after statistical processing and data analysis with R statistical software. The results of the study confirm with statistically significant data the effect of childhood cancer on the physical, mental, and social health and behavior of the parent. Thus, 53.8% of the respondents stated 5 and above on the 7-point Likert scale for fatigue issues, 55.6% for sleep disorders, 78.1% for stress, and 82.7% for fear. The key findings are characterized by high specificity as it is a unique study that reveals particular aspects of the Greek parent’s behavior, mind, and body during the period of their child’s illness. Conclusion: The effects of childhood illnesses, particularly when they are severe, such as neoplasms, present a looming threat, ushering in a multitude of adverse alterations in the daily lives of the affected child’s family. What is Known – What is New: • We know the effects that a childhood illness brings not only to the sick child, but also to the entire family circle. The new element in the present research is that these data reflect the situation in Greece, for which the research data in this area is quite limited. Our research is one of the few studies that demonstrate with statistical data the change in the psychosomatic health of the parent who has a child with cancer.