Fathers' views and understanding of their roles in families with a child with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia: an interpretative phenomenological analysis

J Health Psychol. 2009 Nov;14(8):1268-80. doi: 10.1177/1359105309342291.


This study explored how fathers of children diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) perceived and understood the roles they had within their family over the course of their child's illness and treatment. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with five fathers. Transcripts were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). The major themes that emerged were: adjusting to the diagnosis; the experience of maternal gate-keeping; striving for normalization; experiences of giving and receiving support. Overall, the fathers perceived themselves as having significant responsibility in helping their child and family cope with the illness experience. Clinical implications, including the need for professionals to recognize and more openly acknowledge the father's position, are considered.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Defense Mechanisms
  • Father-Child Relations
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Marriage
  • Maternal Behavior / psychology
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Paternal Behavior*
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / psychology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Role*
  • Social Responsibility
  • Social Support
  • Survival / psychology