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Psychological Interventions for Parents of Children who have Cancer: A Meta-Analytic Review

[ Vol. 5 , Issue. 2 ]


Azizah Othman and Sarah Blunden   Pages 118 - 127 ( 10 )


Introduction: The role of psychological interventions in improving parents psychological functioning has received growing recognition. Objective: To review studies regarding the effectiveness of psychological interventions for parents who have children with cancer based on the best available evidence. Methods: Sixteen studies were reviewed using meta-analytic techniques. The outcome measures are emotional distress and positive psychological functioning as reported by parents using standardized questionnaires. The former refers to anxiety, depression, stress and negative mood. The latter refers to general well-being and the use of positive coping strategies. Effect sizes were calculated by comparing control (or pre-intervention) to intervention (or post-intervention) scores. Results: There were moderate support (d = 0.57) for the effectiveness of psychological interventions in improving positive psychological functioning and minimal support (d = -0.35) in alleviating emotional distress. The cognitive behavioral interventions show moderate effects on parental use of positive coping strategies (d = 0.52) and in reducing stress (d = -0.43). Conclusion: Psychological interventions have a potential in improving parental psychological outcomes. Recommendations The effects of psychological interventions could be enhanced by designing treatments that focus on strength and skills building in participants. Having outcomes measures that relate to theoretical model will allow evaluation and refinement of the interventions.


Childhood cancer, parents, psychological intervention, program effectiveness, emotional distress, meta-analysis


Department of Pediatrics, School of Medical Sciences, Health Campus, University Sains Malaysia 16150, Kelantan, Malaysia.

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