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Demands and Rewards Associated With Working in Pediatric Oncology: A Qualitative Study of Canadian Health Care Providers

Dix, David MD; Gulati, Sonia PhD; Robinson, Paula MD, MSc; Syed, Iqra BSc; Klassen, Anne DPhil

Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology: August 2012 - Volume 34 - Issue 6 - p 430–435
doi: 10.1097/MPH.0b013e3182580a90
Original Articles

Objective: Despite recent advances in the outcome of children with cancer, the demands on medical professionals caring for these patients can be intense. Our qualitative study explored the work-related demands and rewards experienced by Canadian pediatric oncology staff.

Study Design: Interviews were conducted with 33 staff members (10 oncologists, 3 subspecialty residents, 9 nurses, 5 social workers, and 6 child life specialists) from 4 hospitals. Participants were asked to describe work-related rewards and demands. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Interview transcripts were analyzed to identify all sources of demands and rewards.

Results: Pediatric oncology staff described work-related rewards and demands related to the following areas: (1) working with children; (2) working with families; (3) working within a multidisciplinary health care team; (4) working in a pediatric oncology unit; and (5) working within a hospital or academic health center. Overall, health care providers described their job as fulfilling and meaningful. For most health care providers, many work-related issues were described as both rewarding and demanding.

Conclusions: Our study identifies important demands and rewards associated with working in pediatric oncology. Future research could explore the relationship between work-related stress and job satisfaction and how these factors either cause or prevent burnout syndrome.

*Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia

Department of Pediatrics, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada

This study was funded by a Grant from the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario.

Anne Klassen is a recipient of Canadian Institute of Health Research career award. The remaining authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: David Dix, MD, Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia, A119D, 4480 Oak Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6H 4C9 Canada (e-mail:

Received October 3, 2011

Accepted March 29, 2012

Copyright © 2012 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.