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Fear of Progression in Parents of Children with Cancer: Results of An Online Expert Survey in Pediatric Oncology

Journal title
Klinische Padiatrie
Publication year
Clever, K.; Schepper, F.; Kupper, L.; Christiansen, H.; Martini, J.

BACKGROUND: Fear of Progression (FoP) is a commonly reported psychological strain in parents of children with cancer. This expert survey investigates how professionals in pediatric oncology estimate the burden and consequences of FoP in parents and how they assess and treat parental FoP. METHOD: N=77 professionals in pediatric oncology (members and associates of the Psychosocial Association in Paediatric Oncology and Haematology, PSAPOH) were examined in an online survey with a self-developed questionnaire. Data were analyzed via descriptive statistics and qualitative content analysis. RESULTS: Three of four experts in clinical practice were (very) often confronted with parental FoP which was associated with more negative (e. g., psychosomatic reactions, reduced family functioning) than positive (e. g., active illness processing) consequences. N=40 experts indicated that they mainly assess parents’ anxiety via clinical judgment (72.5%) and/or according to ICD-10/DSM-5 diagnostic criteria (37.5%), whereas standardized methods such as psycho-oncological questionnaires (12.5%) were applied less often. Only n=6 experts named a specific diagnostic approach to assess parental FoP. The most common treatment approaches for FoP were supportive counseling (74.0%), psychotherapy (59.7%) and/or relaxation techniques (55.8%). DISCUSSION: Parental FoP is frequently perceived by experts in clinical practice. A standardized diagnostic procedure would increase comparability of diagnostic judgments and harmonize treatment indications.

Research abstracts