The everyday life of the young child shortly after receiving a cancer diagnosis, from both children's and parent's perspectives

Cancer Nurs. Nov-Dec 2014;37(6):445-56. doi: 10.1097/NCC.0000000000000114.


Background: Providing qualified, evidence-based healthcare to children requires increased knowledge of how cancer affects the young child's life. There is a dearth of research focusing on the young child's experience of everyday life.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore young children's and their parents' perceptions of how cancer affects the child's health and everyday life shortly after diagnosis.

Methods: Thirteen children with newly diagnosed cancer aged 1 to 6 years and their parents, connected to a pediatric oncology unit in Southern Sweden, participated in this study through semistructured interviews. Child and parent data were analyzed as a family unit, using qualitative content analysis.

Results: Everyday life was spent at hospital or at home waiting to go back to hospital. Analysis led to the following categories: feeling like a stranger, feeling powerless, and feeling isolated.

Conclusions: The child wants to be seen as a competent individual requiring information and participation in care. Parents need to be a safe haven for their child and not feel forced to legitimize painful and traumatic procedures by assisting with them. Nurses play a major role in the lives of children. Research with and on the young child is necessary and a way of making them visible and promoting their health and well-being.

Implications for practice: Nurses need to reevaluate the newly diagnosed child's care routines so as to shift focus from the illness to the child. This requires competent nurses, secure in their caring role.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / nursing
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Sweden