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The impact of cancer on children’s physical, emotional, and psychosocial well-being

Cancer Nursing. 33(1): 47-54. 2010.
Li W.H.C., Chung O.K. and Chiu S.Y.


The diagnosis and treatment of cancer are a stressful and threatening experience, which can be emotionally devastating to children. Despite the improved prognosis, the course of cancer treatment has tremendous impact on children. This article aims to examine the impact of cancer on physical, emotional, and psychosocial well-being of Hong Kong Chinese children, an area of research that has been underrepresented in the literature. Ninety-eight Hong Kong Chinese children aged 7 to 15 years, admitted for treatment of cancer in 2 pediatric oncology units of 2 different hospitals, were invited to participate in the study. Findings from this study indicated that the children scored considerably high state anxiety on admission, and more than half of the participants presented some depressive symptoms during their stay in the hospital. Moreover, semistructured interviews indicated that nearly all children expressed different degrees of sadness and worry. The findings suggested that there is a room for improvement in existing nursing intervention regarding preparing children for hospitalization and treatment of cancer. There is an imperative need for nurses to evaluate appropriate nursing interventions that can help children resume their normal growth and development, in particular, to help them ease the physical, emotional, and psychological burden of life-threatening disease.

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