Wonders & Worries: evaluation of a child centered psychosocial intervention for families who have a parent/primary caregiver with cancer

Psychooncology. 2017 Jul;26(7):1006-1012. doi: 10.1002/pon.4120. Epub 2016 Mar 8.


Objective: Scant evidence exists to guide interventions for children who have a parent with cancer. This study evaluated the outcomes of a community based psychosocial intervention targeted to children dealing with parental or primary caregiver cancer. This curriculum provided an age-appropriate understanding of the illness, facilitated the expression of feelings, identified individual coping skills to help ease feelings related to parent's cancer, and enhanced the family's ability to communicate about the disease.

Methods: Families whose children participated in the six-week curriculum-based intervention completed a questionnaire that included demographic information, a five-item assessment of changes in parenting abilities, and a nine-item assessment of changes in children's behavioral issues. The prevalence of each reported item was determined through a secondary analyses of cross-sectional data derived from a multi-year sample of these survey results.

Results: A sample of 156 families responded to the survey between 2009 and 2014. A majority of families described improvement in all five areas of parenting abilities assessed including communication skills and confidence in parenting. Amelioration of multiple children's issues was reported including improved communication skills (87%), reduced anxiety (84%), increased feeling of security at home (90%), and improved school performance (73%).

Conclusions: The results reported here suggest that this child centered psychosocial intervention promoted positive adaptation by actively supporting families and children while a parent/primary caregiver coped with a cancer diagnosis. Future research is planned utilizing a randomized controlled study design to formally evaluate the effectiveness and preventative impact of this manualized six-week curriculum. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology*
  • Child of Impaired Parents / statistics & numerical data
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Curriculum*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms*
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome