One of the issues that cancer patients with minor or adolescent children face is whether to inform children about their cancer diagnosis. Their perspectives toward this issue are underexplored in China.
The aim of this study was to explore Chinese cancer parents’ perspectives toward informing children of their diseases.
Eighteen cancer patients with children younger than 18 years were recruited using purposive sampling. Semistructured, face-to-face, in-depth interviews were conducted using a phenomenological approach. Data were analyzed using Colaizzi’s approach.
Six main themes with 2 to 6 subthemes emerged: (a) inappropriate to disclose the true diagnosis to children, (b) appropriate to disclose the true diagnosis to children, (c) communication content between cancer patients and their children in regard to cancer, (d) attitude on ways of disclosing cancer diagnosis to children, (e) reflections on parenting style, and (f) unmet needs for information and support.
Perspectives of Chinese cancer parents toward truthfully disclosing their diagnosis vary, but all are for the purpose of protecting their children. Study findings indicate that Chinese cancer parents have culture-specific considerations, such as concepts of death and filial piety, which differ from studies in Western countries. Meanwhile, there are barriers between cancer parents and children in communicating about the illness and unmet needs for information and support.
Psychosocial assessments and consultations, education, and interventions need to include a focus on the dependent children of adult cancer parents.
Author Affiliations: Department of Nursing, Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital, Tianjin, China (Mss Wang, Shen, and Qiang); and School of Health Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, United Kingdom (Dr Arber).
This study was supported by project funds of Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital (project no. H1604).
The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
Correspondence: Aomei Shen, MS, RN, Department of Nursing, Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital, West Huanhu Road, Tianyta Street, Hexi District, Tianjin, China 300060 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Accepted for publication September 15, 2018.