Parental experience of childhood cancer using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Schweitzer, Robert, Grifftiths, Maya, & Yates, Patsy (2012) Parental experience of childhood cancer using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Psychology and Health, 27(6), pp. 704-720.

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Whilst survival rates for childhood cancer have improved dramatically over the past three decades, it is still a devastating diagnosis for family members and an illness which severely disrupts the lifestyle of the family unit. Developing an understanding of the impact of the illness on the family is crucial to better support families’ deal with the demands of the illness. In this study 9 families in which a child was diagnosed with cancer were interviewed twice over a 12 month period, approximately 6 months apart. Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), a semi-structured interview was used to explicate parent’s experience of childhood cancer. The results revealed 5 super ordinate themes;

(1) a pivotal moment in time, (2) the experience of adaptation in relation to having a sick child, (3) the nature of support, (4) re-evaluation of values during a critical life experience and (5) the experience of optimism and altruism.

Findings indicate that parents express both negative and positive experiences as they re-evaluate the meaning and purpose of life, seek to redefine themselves, often in terms of priorities, relationships, sense of community, and achieve degrees of optimism and altruism. Implications for addressing the needs of parents and for further research are discussed.

Impact and interest:

15 citations in Scopus
9 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 46850
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: Accepted for publication 2011
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Cancer, Children, Parents, Lived Experience, Phenomenology
DOI: 10.1080/08870446.2011.622379
ISSN: 1476-8321
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Nursing
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group)
Copyright Statement: This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in the Psychology and Health © 2011 copyright Taylor & Francis; Psychology and Health is available online at:
Deposited On: 06 Nov 2011 23:15
Last Modified: 16 Oct 2013 07:14

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