OBJECTIVE: One of the main goals of the Family Talk Intervention (FTI) is to increase communication within families with dependent children about illness-related consequences and to support parenting. FTI is family-centered and includes six manual-based meetings led by two interventionists. This study aims to evaluate the feasibility of the FTI in terms of acceptability from the perspective of parents in families with dependent children where one parent receives specialized palliative home care.
METHOD: A descriptive design employing mixed methods was used to evaluate the FTI in specialized palliative home care. In total, 29 parents participated in interviews and responded to a questionnaire following FTI. Qualitative content analysis and descriptive statistics were used for analyses.
RESULTS: FTI responded to both the ill parent's and the healthy co-parent's expectations, and they recommended FTI to other families. Parents found the design of FTI to be well-structured and flexible according to their families' needs. Many parents reported a wish for additional meetings and would have wanted FTI to start earlier in the disease trajectory. Parents also would have wished for a more thorough briefing with the interventionists to prepare before the start. The importance of the interventionists was acknowledged by the parents; their professional competence, engagement, and support were vital for finding ways to open communication within the family. The FTI meetings provided them with a setting to share thoughts and views. Parents clearly expressed that they would never have shared thoughts and feelings in a similar way without the meetings.
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: According to parents, FTI was found acceptable in a palliative home care context with the potential to add valuable support for families with minor children when a parent is suffering from a life-threatening illness.
Having a parent with a life-threatening illness is challenging throughout the illness trajectory, and for some also in bereavement. Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states a child's right to express their opinion and have it respected in processes that affect them. The aims of this paper were to explore the child's active participation in a family support programme, the Family Talk Intervention, in accordance with Article 12, when having a parent cared for in palliative care. Twenty families with 50 children participated. Fieldnotes were taken during the programme and later analysed with interpretive descriptions. The study shows that all children were listened to, but only a quarter reached the minimum point required in Article 12, where their views were taken into account. The Family Talk Intervention in palliative care would benefit from implementing a child-centred approach in order for all children to be active participants.
BACKGROUND: Family caregivers of patients with severe illness and in need for a palliative care approach, face numerous challenges and report having insufficient preparedness for the caregiver role as well as a need for information and psychosocial support. Preparing to care for a severely ill family members also means becoming aware of death. Feelings of being prepared are associated with positive aspects and regarded protective against negative health consequences.
METHODS: The study adheres to the SPIRIT-guidelines (Supplementary 1), uses a pre-post design and include a web-based intervention. Inclusion criteria are; being a family caregiver of a patient with severe illness and in need of a palliative care approach. The intervention which aims to increase preparedness for caregiving and death is grounded in theory, research and clinical experience. The topics cover: medical issues, symptoms and symptom relief; communication within the couple, how to spend the time before death, being a caregiver, planning for the moment of death and; considerations of the future. The intervention is presented through videos and informative texts. The website also holds an online peer-support discussion forum. Study aims are to: evaluate feasibility in terms of framework, content, usage and partners' experiences; explore how the use of the website, influences family caregivers' preparedness for caregiving and death; explore how the use of the website influences family caregivers' knowledge about medical issues, their communication with the patient and their considerations of the future; and to investigate how the family caregivers' preparedness for caregiving and death influences their physical and psychological health and quality of life 1 year after the patient's death. Data will be collected through qualitative interviews and a study-specific questionnaire at four time-points.
DISCUSSION: This project will provide information about whether support via a website has the potential to increase preparedness for caregiving and death and thereby decrease negative health consequences for family caregivers of patients affected by severe illness. It will provide new knowledge about intervention development, delivery, and evaluation in a palliative care context. Identification of factors before death and their association with family caregivers' preparedness and long-term health may change future clinical work.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: The study is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT03676283.
Children's experiences of information and family communication when a parent has a life-threatening illness have been sparsely studied, though such information is important for the child's wellbeing. The aim of this study was to explore children's reports of illness-related information and family communication when living with a parent with a life-threatening illness. Forty-eight children, aged 7 to 19 years, were recruited from four specialized palliative home care units in Stockholm, Sweden. All but one child reported that someone had told them about the parent's life-threatening illness; however, two thirds wanted more information. A quarter of the teenagers reported that they had questions about the illness that they did not dare to ask. Half of the children, aged 8 to 12, reported that they felt partially or completely unable to talk about how they felt or show their feelings to someone in the family. Interventions are needed that promote greater family communication and family-professional communication.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to investigate levels of perceived family cohesion during childhood, teenage years, and young adulthood in cancer-bereaved youths compared with non-bereaved peers.
METHODS: In this nationwide, population-based study, 622 (73%) young adults (aged 18-26) who had lost a parent to cancer 6 to 9 years previously, when they were teenagers (aged 13-16), and 330 (78%) non-bereaved peers from a matched random sample answered a study-specific questionnaire. Associations were assessed using multivariable logistic regression.
RESULTS: Compared with non-bereaved youths, the cancer-bereaved participants were more likely to report poor family cohesion during teenage years (odds ratio [OR] 1.6, 95% CI, 1.0-2.4, and 2.3, 95% CI, 1.5-3.5, for paternally and maternally bereaved youths, respectively). This was also seen in young adulthood among maternally bereaved participants (OR 2.5; 95% CI, 1.6-4.1), while there was no difference between paternally bereaved and non-bereaved youths. After controlling for a number of covariates (eg, year of birth, number of siblings, and depression), the adjusted ORs for poor family cohesion remained statistically significant. In a further analysis stratified for gender, this difference in perceived poor family cohesion was only noted in females.
CONCLUSION: Teenage loss of a parent to cancer was associated with perceived poor family cohesion during teenage years. This was also noted in young adulthood among the maternally bereaved. Females were more likely to report poor family cohesion. Our results indicate a need for increased awareness of family cohesion in bereaved-to-be families with teenage offspring, with special attention to gender roles.
Parentally bereaved children and adolescents are at risk of developing psychological health problems. Evidence for a correlation between communication and broad measures of psychological health exists in other populations. The aim of this study was to examine associations between family communication and specific aspects of psychological health for children and adolescents following a parent’s death from cancer using parent-proxy and adolescent self-reports. Parent-proxy reports for children and adolescents, and adolescent self-reports for Parent–Adolescent Communication, Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, and Prolonged Grief-13 child were analyzed using descriptive statistics and Spearman’s correlation. Parents rated communication as moderate in quality and reported good psychological health for children and adolescents. Adolescent self-reports indicated low-quality communication with their parent and poor psychological health. Significant associations between Parent–Adolescent Communication subscales and Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire subscales were found for each group. Prolonged grief was associated with emotional problems but not communication for all three groups.
OBJECTIVE: To assess differences in prolonged grief, depression, posttraumatic stress and sleep disturbances in bereaved parents across years since loss (1-5 years) and by gender, and to assess potential interactive effects of time since loss and gender on bereavement outcomes.
METHODS: This study examined symptom levels of Prolonged Grief Disorder, depression, posttraumatic stress and insomnia in bereaved parents. A sample, including 133 mothers and 92 fathers who had lost a child to cancer 1-5 years previously, subdivided to five subsamples, one for each year since loss. ANOVA was used to assess differences in symptom levels, related to years since loss and gender.
RESULTS: Regardless of how many years had passed since the loss, symptom levels of prolonged grief, depression, posttraumatic stress symptoms and insomnia, were elevated in all subsamples. Mothers showed higher symptom levels of prolonged grief, depression and posttraumatic stress than fathers. However, no significant interaction effects were found between years since loss and gender on any of the symptom levels.
CONCLUSIONS: Cancer-bereaved mothers and fathers are vulnerable to prolonged grief and psychological symptoms up to five years after the death of their child. Findings highlight that bereaved parents may need long-term support and the results deserve further attention in research and clinical care.
The aim of this nationwide survey was to explore, based on an open-ended question, cancer-bereaved siblings’ advice to peers with a brother or sister with cancer. Half of the advice related to being with the ill sibling and cherishing the time together. Other advice related to the value of communicating about the situation, letting go of guilt, and living life as usual. The results highlight the importance of health care professionals, family, and others facilitating for siblings to spend time together and communicate openly.
PURPOSE: Family communication is a known protective factor for minor children's psychological health following the death of a parent, but there is little research describing communication within such families specifically from the perspective of the children. The purpose of this study was therefore to explore communication in parentally bereaved families from the perspective of the children and surviving parent.
METHODS: Interviews with four parents and four children from four families were analyzed using inductive content analysis. Interviews took place in the family's home or at the research center based on the family's wishes 4-14 months after a parent had died. Interviews had an open approach and were based on an interview guide. Each interview was between 60 and 120 min long.
RESULTS: Four categories emerged which were related to family members' experiences of family communication while adjusting to their new circumstances as bereaved: the importance of open and honest communication in the family; new challenges in the family which affect communication; communicating the need for help; and talking about and remembering the deceased parent.
CONCLUSIONS: This study illuminates the connection between family communication and adjustments to new circumstances following the death of a parent. The results suggest that the relationship between family adjustment and communication may be circular whereby the family's ability to adjust to their new circumstances is affected by how the family communicates. Similarly, family communication may be affected by the family's coping strategies and ability to adjust to their new circumstances.
BACKGROUND: Young adults represent a minority in research; they are often considered too young or too old for participation. There is sparse information, especially in bereavement research, regarding how this age group perceives research participation and what they consider beneficial or harmful.
AIM: To explore how parentally bereaved and nonbereaved young adults perceive research participation.
DESIGN: Qualitative analysis of free-text comments collected in a Swedish nation-wide survey.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Parentally cancer-bereaved and nonbereaved young adults between 18 and 25 years old living in Sweden.
RESULTS: Five categories were identified from the free-text comments, three among the cancer-bereaved: (1) therapeutic to remember the deceased, (2) valuable to help others and improve care, and (3) short-term distressful-long-term beneficial, and two among the nonbereaved: (1) increased reflection and awareness about life, and (2) an opportunity to help others.
CONCLUSIONS: It is important to invite young adults to participate in bereavement research. The results suggest that potential harm is minimal and that participating in bereavement research can have a beneficial effect on young adults.
BACKGROUND: Bereaved parents may be at higher risk to develop persistent, severe and disabling grief, termed prolonged grief. Grief rumination, repetitive thinking about the causes and consequences of the loss, is a malleable cognitive process that maintains prolonged grief. Grief rumination can be measured with the Utrecht Grief Rumination Scale (UGRS). The present study aimed to examine the psychometric properties of the new Swedish version of the UGRS in a sample of bereaved parents.
METHODS: A Swedish nationwide postal survey including measures of demographic and loss-related variables, grief rumination (UGRS), and symptoms of prolonged grief, posttraumatic stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia, was completed by 226 parents (133 mothers and 93 fathers) who lost a child to cancer in the past five years. Psychometric properties of the UGRS were examined through confirmatory factor analyses (CFA), reliability analyses, and assessment of UGRS score associations with symptoms of prolonged grief, posttraumatic stress, depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
RESULTS: The internal consistency of the Swedish UGRS was good. The CFA yielded an acceptable fit for a two-factor hierarchical model with five sub-factors. Grief rumination was positively associated with all psychopathology symptom measures. Higher scores on UGRS were found in parents with possible prolonged grief disorder compared to those without (d = 1.47). Moreover, the Swedish UGRS was associated with prolonged grief symptoms over and above loss-related and demographic variables and other psychopathology symptoms.
CONCLUSIONS: The Swedish UGRS demonstrated good psychometric properties, which supports its use as a measure to assess grief rumination in Swedish bereaved parents in research and practice.
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Children with severe spinal muscular atrophy have complex care needs due to progressive muscle weakness, eventually leading to respiratory failure. To design a care system adapted to families' needs, more knowledge about parents' experience of care and its coordination between settings is required. This study explores (1) whether parents felt that health professionals took every opportunity to help the child feel as good as possible, (2) parents' satisfaction with various care settings, and (3) parents' satisfaction with coordination between settings.
METHODS: Data derive from nationwide Swedish and Danish surveys of bereaved and nonbereaved parents of children with severe spinal muscular atrophy born between 2000 and 2010 in Sweden and 2003 and 2013 in Denmark (N = 95, response rate = 84%). Descriptive statistics and content analysis were used.
RESULTS: Although most of the parents reported that care professionals had taken every opportunity to help the child feel as good as possible, one-third reported the opposite. Bereaved parents were significantly more satisfied with care than nonbereaved (81% vs 29%). The children received care at many different locations, for all of which parents rated high satisfaction. However, some were dissatisfied with care coordination, describing lack of knowledge and communication among staff, and how they as parents had to take the initiative in care management.
CONCLUSIONS: This study highlights the importance of improving disease-specific competence, communication and knowledge exchange among staff. For optimal care for these children and families, parents should be included in dialogues on care and staff should be more proactive and take care management initiatives.
This study aimed to validate the Swedish version of the Prolonged Grief Disorder-13 tool (PG–13) by examining its psychometric properties, including factor structure, discriminant and concurrent validity. The PG–13 was assessed in a sample of Swedish parents who had lost a child to cancer 1–5 years previously. The sample included 225 parents (133 mothers and 92 fathers) with a mean age of 46.02 years (SD = 8.15) and 16.0% met the criteria for Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD). A principal component analysis was performed, and the results supported a one-factor structure of the PG-13. The PG–13 was shown to have high internal consistency and intelligible associations with concurrent psychological symptoms and grief rumination as well as with known risk factors for PGD. These results indicate satisfactory psychometric properties of the instrument, thus supporting the use of the PG-13 as a valid measure of PGD.
BACKGROUND: In palliative care contexts, support programs for families with a severely ill parent and minor children are few, and even fewer have been evaluated scientifically. The aims of this study are to examine feasibility and potential effects of a modified version of the Family Talk Intervention (FTI) in palliative care.
METHODS: This ongoing family-centered intervention has a quasi-experimental design comparing one intervention and one comparison group. The intervention includes severely ill parents who have minor children (aged 6-19 yrs) and are receiving advanced homecare in Stockholm, Sweden between March 2017 and March 2018. The main goal of the FTI is to support family communication through psycho-education and narrative theory. The modified FTI consists of six meetings with family members, and is held by two interventionists. Each family sets up needs-based goals for the intervention. For evaluation purposes, data are collected by questionnaire before the intervention, within two months after baseline, and one year after baseline. Interviews will be conducted within two months after FTI is completed. Notes taken by one of the interventionists during the family meetings will also be used. Questionnaire data analysis will focus on patterns over time using descriptive statistics. For interview data and notes, content analysis will be used.
DISCUSSION: This study will add knowledge about palliative care for parents who have minor children. It will contribute by testing use of FTI in palliative care, and point out directions for future evaluations of FTI in palliative care settings.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier NCT03119545 , retrospectively registered in April 18, 2017.
OBJECTIVE: Many bereaved siblings have still not come to terms with their grief many years after the loss, but few studies have focused on what can help. The aims of this study were to identify cancer-bereaved adolescents' and young adults' ways of coping with grief after loss of a sibling, and examine whether these ways of coping were related to their experience of having worked through their grief.
METHOD: This nationwide survey of 174 cancer-bereaved siblings (73% participation rate) is based on one open-ended question about coping with grief ("What has helped you to cope with your grief after your sibling's death?") and one closed-ended question about siblings' long-term grief ("Do you think you have worked through your grief over your sibling's death?"). The open-ended question was analyzed with content analysis; descriptive statistics and Fisher's exact test were used to examine the relation between type of coping and siblings' long-term grief.
RESULT: The siblings described four ways of coping: (1) thinking of their dead brother/sister and feeling and expressing their grief; (2) distracting or occupying themselves; (3) engaging in spiritual and religious beliefs/activities; and (4) waiting for time to pass. One of these categories of coping with grief, namely, engaging in spiritual and religious beliefs and activities, was associated with siblings' experience of having worked through their grief two to nine years after the loss (p = 0.016).
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: Those siblings who had used spirituality, religious beliefs, and activities to cope were more likely to have worked through their grief than those who had not.
BACKGROUND: A majority of cancer-bereaved siblings report long-term unresolved grief, thus it is important to identify factors that may contribute to resolving their grief.
OBJECTIVE: To identify modifiable or avoidable family and care-related factors associated with unresolved grief among siblings two to nine years post loss.
DESIGN: This is a nationwide Swedish postal survey.
MEASUREMENTS: Study-specific questions and the standardized instrument Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Primary outcome was unresolved grief, and family and care-related factors were used as predictors.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Cancer-bereaved sibling (N = 174) who lost a brother/sister to childhood cancer during 2000–2007 in Sweden (participation rate 73%). Seventy-three were males and 101 females. The age of the siblings at time of loss was 12–25 years and at the time of the survey between 19 and 33 years.
RESULTS: Several predictors for unresolved grief were identified: siblings' perception that it was not a peaceful death [odds ratio (OR): 9.86, 95% confidence interval (CI): 2.39-40.65], limited information given to siblings the last month of life (OR: 5.96, 95% CI: 1.87-13.68), information about the impending death communicated the day before it occurred (OR: 2.73, 95% CI: 1.02-7.33), siblings' avoidance of the doctors (OR: 3.22, 95% CI: 0.75-13.76), and lack of communication with family (OR: 2.86, 95% CI: 1.01-8.04) and people outside the family about death (OR: 5.07, 95% CI: 1.64-15.70). Depressive symptoms (OR: 1.27, 95% CI: 1.12-1.45) and time since loss (two to four years: OR: 10.36, 95% CI: 2.87-37.48 and five to seven years: OR: 8.36, 95% CI: 2.36-29.57) also predicted unresolved grief. Together, these predictors explained 54% of the variance of unresolved grief.
CONCLUSION: Siblings' perception that it was not a peaceful death and poor communication with family, friends, and healthcare increased the risk for unresolved grief among the siblings.
Purpose Previous research shows that the death of a parent places children at risk for a number of negative outcomes. The role of trust in health care at the end of life has been acknowledged as crucial for patients and adult family members. However, the consequences of children's distrust in the care provided to their parents remain unknown. Therefore, we investigated the negative long-term outcomes of cancer-bereaved sons' and daughters' distrust in the care that was provided to a dying parent. Methods We used a population-based nationwide survey to investigate self-reported distrust in the care provided and possible negative outcomes in 622 (73%) participants who had lost a parent as a result of cancer 6 to 9 years earlier, at ages 13 to 16 years. All participants were 18 years or older at the time of the survey. Results In those who reported no or little trust (ie, distrust) in the health care provided to their dying parents, we found statistically significantly higher risks of various negative outcomes at the time of survey: bitterness toward health care professionals for not having done everything that was possible (crude risk ratio [RR], 3.5; 95% CI, 2.3 to 5.1) and for having stopped treatment (RR, 3.4; 95% CI, 2.1 to 6.0), self-destructiveness (eg, self-injury [RR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.2 to 2.4]), and psychological problems (eg, moderate to severe depression according to the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 [RR, 2.3; 95% CI, 1.5 to 3.5]). Conclusion In cancer-bereaved former adolescents, distrust in the health care provided to the dying parent is associated with a higher risk of negative long-term outcomes. The health care professionals involved in this care might play an important role in safeguarding the trust of adolescents.
OBJECTIVE: Our aim was to explore bereaved siblings' positive and negative memories and experiences of their brother's or sister's illness and death.
METHOD: In our nationwide Swedish study, 174 of 240 (73%) bereaved siblings participated, and 70% responded to two open-ended statements, which focused on siblings' positive and negative memories and experiences of illness and death. The data were analyzed using systematic text condensation.
RESULTS: The bereaved siblings' responses were categorized into four different themes: (1) endurance versus vulnerability, (2) family cohesion versus family conflicts, (3) growth versus stagnation, and (4) professional support versus lack of professional support. The first theme expressed endurance as the influence that the ill siblings' strong willpower, good mood, and stamina in their difficult situation had on healthy siblings, whereas vulnerability was expressed as the feeling of emptiness and loneliness involved with having an ill and dying sibling. In the second theme, family cohesion was expressed as the bonds being strengthened between family members, whereas family conflicts often led siblings to feel invisible and unacknowledged. In the third theme, most siblings expressed the feeling that they grew as individuals in the process of their brother's or sister's illness and death, whereas others experienced stagnation because of the physical and mental distress they bore throughout this time, often feeling forgotten. In the last theme-professional support-most siblings perceived physicians and staff at the hospital as being warm, kind, and honest, while some siblings had negative experiences.
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: The study shows that bereaved siblings can have positive memories and experiences. The significance of the positive buffering effect on bereaved siblings' own endurance, personal growth, family cohesion, and social support should be noted. This knowledge can be valuable in showing healthcare professionals the importance of supporting the siblings of children with cancer throughout the cancer trajectory and afterwards into bereavement.
Cette étude vise à déterminer quels facteurs conduisent des parents ayant perdu un enfant à cause d'un cancer à penser que la mort est préférable pour leur enfant. L'étude a été menée sur l'ensemble du territoire suédois. 449 parents ayant perdu leur enfant à cause d'un cancer entre 1992 et 1997ont répondu à un questionnaire. Il apparaît que l'incapacité de l'enfant à communiquer dans la dernière semaine amène les mères à penser que la mort est préférable pour leur l'enfant alors que c'est la durée importante de la maladie qui amène les pères à une telle pensée. Une douleur non soulagée et la conscience émotionnelle prolongée de la venue de la mort de l'enfant amènent les pères comme les mères à penser que la mort est préférable pour lui.
Un questionnaire destiné à des parents endeuillés par la mort de leur enfant cancéreux a été refusé par le comité d'éthique suédois par crainte de réactiver le sentiment de perte. Une validation préalable a donc été réalisée sous forme d'étude pilote pour en étudier les répercussions bénéfiques ou négatives. Les résultats accompagnés par des tableaux statistiques ont mis en évidence qu'une majorité de parents a perçu positivement la participation à cette enquête.