Background: Immigration in the childhood cancer population constitutes a stressor factor because of high biopsychosocial vulnerability. In recent years the incidence of immigrant children in our unit has increased. Since 2005 we have developed a psychosocial program to overcome this challenge. Our objective is to assess its impact on the immigrant pediatric population.
Procedure: We have compared new cases (n=114) from 2005 to 2010 with historical cases (n=95) from 1995 to 2004. We administered a long-term follow-up questionnaire allowing for the assessment of symptoms associated with biopsychosocial variables.
Results: Most of our immigrant patients came from Latin America and we observed a significant increase of cases coming from Morocco and Romania. The most common diagnosis was hematological malignancies. From 2005 to 2010 the disease status was mainly initial, whereas in the period 1995 to 2004 most of the patients arrived with advanced disease. Socioeconomic variables amongst these patients tended towards low incomes, high unemployment, and economic difficulties. The implementation of the biopsychosocial protocol AMOR II improved adaptation (P=0.012), the amount and understanding of information received (P=0.002), and family emotional support (P=0.004).
Conclusions: In brief, our biopsychosocial protocol had significantly increased some psychosocial variables. However, immigration in Spain is still associated with economic difficulties, “aculturism” and failure to adapt.