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Staff’s Experiences of Preparing and Caring for Children With Cancer and Their Families During the Child’s Radiotherapy

Ångström-Brännström, Charlotte, PhD, RN; Lindh, Viveca, PhD, RN; Nyholm, Tufve, PhD; Lindh, Jack, MD, PhD; Engvall, Gunn, PhD, RN

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0000000000000635
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Background Approximately one-third of children diagnosed with cancer are treated with radiotherapy (RT). Staff experiences of preparing and distracting the children and their families during a child’s RT are sparsely described.

Objective The aim of this study was to describe staff experiences of preparing and caring for children with cancer and their families during the child’s RT.

Intervention/Methods Semistructured interviews with staff were performed at 3 Swedish RT centers. The interviews were analyzed using inductive qualitative content analysis.

Results The analysis revealed 5 categories summarizing the staff members’ experiences. These include the following: experiences of various emotions; care for the child and the child’s family; commitments before, during, and after RT; organizational issues; and experiences of the intervention and suggestions for improvement.

Conclusions The preparatory intervention facilitated the ability of staff members to conduct their work, although the intervention should be specifically tailored to each child. Meeting children and their families and providing care to both during RT were challenging. The staff strived to provide optimal care for each child and family. Interdisciplinary teamwork and organizational acceptance for the importance of preparation and distraction were essential.

Implications for Practice A future challenge will be to provide opportunities for all staff involved in the treatment of children with cancer to develop their skills continuously in order to provide high-quality preparation and distraction to all children undergoing RT, regardless of the geographical location of the RT center.

Author Affiliations: Departments of Nursing (Drs Ångström-Brännström and V. Lindh) and Radiation Sciences (Drs Nyholm and J. Lindh), Umeå University; and Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Uppsala University (Dr Engvall), Sweden.

This work was funded by The Swedish Childhood Cancer Foundation.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Charlotte Ångström-Brännström, PhD, RN, Department of Nursing, Umeå University, S-90187, Umeå, Sweden (charlotte.angstrom@umu.se)

Accepted for publication May 24, 2018.

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