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An Evaluation of By My Side: Peer Support in Written Form is Acceptable and Useful for Parents Bereaved by Childhood Cancer

Journal title
Journal of pain and symptom management
Publication year
Raharjo, C. V.; Hetherington, K.; Donovan, L.; Fardell, J. E.; Russell, V.; Cohn, R. J.; Morgan, N. L.; Siddiqui, J.; Wakefield, C. E.

CONTEXT: Cancer is the leading cause of nonaccidental death in childhood, with the death of a child representing a devastating loss for families. Peer support offers a valuable way to support parents' adjustment in bereavement. The By My Side book provides written peer support by sharing bereaved parents' stories to normalize grief experiences and reduce parents' isolation. It is available free of charge. OBJECTIVES: This project evaluated the acceptability, relevance, emotional impact, and usefulness of By My Side. DESIGN: Bereaved parents and health care professionals (HCPs) provided feedback via a questionnaire. We used descriptive statistics and qualitative analysis of open-ended responses to analyze the data. SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: We mailed a study invitation and evaluation questionnaire to parents and HCPs who ordered a copy of By My Side. RESULTS: About 24 bereaved parents and seven HCPs provided feedback. Parents thought the book's length (91.7%) and amount of information (83.3%) was just right. About 75% of parents reported that the book made them feel that their reactions to their child's death were normal and/or appropriate. Parents reported positive and negative emotional reactions to the book (e.g., 87.5% felt comforted, 87.5% felt sadness). All parents and HCPs reported that the book provided useful information about grief. About 83.4% of parents and 85.7% of HCPs would recommend it to others. CONCLUSION: By My Side was acceptable and useful to bereaved parents and HCPs. Results suggest that peer support in written form may help normalize aspects of grief and comfort parents bereaved by childhood cancer.

Research abstracts