Parental experiences of adolescent cancer-related distress: A qualitative study

Aditi Sharma, Maria Loades, Laura Baker, Abbie Jordan, Venessa James

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2 Citations (SciVal)
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Objective: Adolescents' cancer-related distress is more complex, severe, and long-lasting than that of children and adults. Parents adopt an active role in supporting their adolescent, reporting that adolescent cancer-related distress is the most problematic symptom parents experience. Research has predominantly focused on exploring adolescents' experiences of cancer-related distress, with little attention to how their parents experience their adolescent's cancer-related distress. Therefore, we aimed to explore parents' experiences of distress within the context of parenting an adolescent with cancer-related distress during or immediately subsequent to active treatment. Methods: A total of 21 semi-structured interviews were conducted face-to-face or via telephone, with parents of adolescents aged 12–18 years from south-west England. Inductive reflexive thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. Results: Three themes were generated: “The contagion of distress”, “Navigating breaking point” and “Developmental disruption”. Parental distress transcended from adolescent cancer-related distress, eliciting uncertainty and challenging parenting limits. Parental distress was perpetuated by feelings that their adolescent had missed out on “normal” adolescence during and just after active treatment. Conclusion: Parental distress reflected the multi-faceted nature of their adolescent's cancer-related distress. Findings advocate the importance of providing a parental voice within adolescent oncology populations. Developing tailored interventions to address parental distress are suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13417
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer Care
Issue number4
Early online date29 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2021


  • adolescent cancer
  • cancer-related distress
  • parental distress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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