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Relationships among therapy-related symptoms, depressive symptoms, and quality of life in Chinese children hospitalized with cancer: an exploratory study

Cancer Nursing. 36(5): 346-354. 2013.
Li W.H.C., Williams P.D., Lopez V., Chung O.K. and Chiu S.Y.


Recent advances in cancer screening and treatment have resulted in a decrease in mortality rates in children and adolescents. However, despite the improved prognosis, the course of cancer treatment continues to be a very stressful experience in the life of a child.

The objectives of the study were to assess the occurrence and severity of treatment-related symptoms manifested by children and adolescents undergoing active cancer treatment and to examine the relationships between therapy-related symptoms, depressive symptoms, and quality of life of these pediatric patients.

A cross-sectional study design was used, and 135 Hong Kong Chinese children (9- to 16-year-olds) who were admitted for treatment of cancer in a pediatric oncology unit were invited to participate in the study.

Results indicated that children and adolescents receiving combined cancer treatment generally experienced greater symptom occurrence and severity. In addition, children reporting greater symptom occurrence and severity experienced higher levels of depression and a lower level of quality of life. The study revealed that therapy-related symptoms are a strong predictor of quality of life of children and adolescents hospitalized for cancer treatment.

Cancer and its treatments significantly affect the psychosocial well-being and quality of life of children and adolescent hospitalized for cancer care. Therapy-related symptoms can be a useful indicator for screening those pediatric patients who are likely to exhibit psychosocial distress or are at high risk of depression.

It is essential for nurses to be sensitive and knowledgeable about the therapy-related symptoms of cancer treatment and their effects on children and adolescents to promote the psychosocial well-being of these patients and enhance their quality of life.

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