Objective: This pilot intervention study assessed the impact of a 3-week inpatient program for mothers with primary breast cancer and their children. The program combined rehabilitative treatment and preventive, psychosocial, child-centered interventions.
Methods: A total of 116 mothers (age 29-57 years, mean = 41.1) with primary, non-metastasized breast cancer completed standardized questionnaires before (Pre1), at the beginning of (Pre2), and at the end of (Post) a 3-week inpatient intervention. The standardized scales included mothers' and children's quality of life and children's psychological symptoms. Mothers' emotional functioning and their 116 children's (age 3-14 years, mean = 7.4; 47% female) psychological health and emotional symptoms were defined as primary outcome measures. A within-subject-control-group design was used to compare changes before the intervention (measurements Pre1-Pre2) to changes during the intervention (measurements Pre2-Post) via dependent one-sided t-tests. Additional exploratory analyses for further outcome variables were performed.
Results: Changes during the intervention period were significantly greater than changes during the waiting period for all primary outcome measures (mothers' emotional functioning: p < 0.0001; children's psychological health: p = 0.0035; and children's emotional symptoms: p = 0.0005).
Conclusions: Data suggest that the family-oriented intervention 'getting well together' seems to be beneficial to mothers' and children's quality of life and psychological well-being. Combining oncological rehabilitation and preventive child-centered interventions might be a feasible approach to supporting breast cancer patients and their children and improving their emotional state. Further research is warranted.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00916825.
Keywords: oncology; parental cancer; prevention; quality of life; rehabilitation.
Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.