Cancer Nursing

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Cancer Nursing:
doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e3181d5c476
Articles: Online Only

Psychosocial Issues and Care in Pediatric Oncology: Medical and Nursing Professionals' Perceptions

Kiernan, Gemma PhD, Postgrad Dip Counselling and Psychotherapy; Meyler, Emma PhD; Guerin, Suzanne PhD

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Background: Children with cancer and their families have psychosocial support needs. Medical and nursing professionals in pediatrics and pediatric oncology are in a position to identify and help manage these. However, little is known about their perceptions of psychosocial issues and interventions.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate physicians' and nurses' perceptions of psychosocial issues in pediatric oncology including their awareness of the psychosocial impact of childhood cancer on families and their knowledge and views of psychosocial interventions.

Methods: A phenomenological approach was taken whereby semistructured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 10 physicians and nurses.

Results: Findings showed that despite a lack of formal training in psychosocial issues, professionals identified a number of psychosocial issues associated with childhood cancer, including effects for family members. In addition, findings illustrated the psychosocial roles that they frequently adopt in relation to the identification, treatment, and referral of psychosocial issues. Finally, physicians and nurses recognized the value of formal intervention, reporting benefits for children, families, and themselves.

Conclusion: These findings give a preliminary insight into physicians' and nurses' perceptions and awareness of the psychosocial issues experienced by children with cancer and their families and their knowledge of psychosocial interventions. They highlight ways to enhance the delivery of care in pediatric oncology.

Implications for Practice: Specifically, they suggest the need for more formal training on psychosocial issues for medical and nursing professionals, for additional experienced psychosocial professionals to be recruited, and for more access to services for both families and medical and nursing professionals.

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.


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