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Effect of Time on Quality of Parent-Child Communication in Pediatric Cancer
  • Brittany Cowfer,
  • Mary Dietrich,
  • Terrah Akard
Brittany Cowfer
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
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Mary Dietrich
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing
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Terrah Akard
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing
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Background A diagnosis of childhood cancer results in new parent-child communication challenges. Little is known about how communication changes over time after diagnosis or relapse. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of time since diagnosis and relapse on quality of parent-child communication. We hypothesized that there would be a positive correlation between time and quality of parent-child communication. Methods Cross-sectional study in children (7 to 17 years) with relapsed/refractory cancer and their caregivers, who spoke English, were not cognitively impaired, and had internet access. Parents were recruited through Facebook ads. Parents and children completed the Parent-Adolescent Communication Scale (PACS), a 20-item measure of communication quality, with openness and problem subscales. Spearman’s Rho coefficients assessed correlations between PACS scores and time since diagnosis/relapse. Results There was a statistically significant negative correlation between parent PACS scores and time since child’s cancer diagnosis (Spearman’s Rho = - 0.21, p = 0.02), indicating a tendency for overall worsening communication as time since diagnosis increased. There was a positive correlation between the parent PACS problem scores and time since diagnosis (Spearman’s Rho = + 0.22, p = 0.01), indicating more problematic communication as time since diagnosis increased. Correlations of time since relapse and PACS scores were small and not statistically significant. Conclusion Parent-child communication worsens over time following a child’s cancer diagnosis with more communication problems, contrary to our hypothesis. Future studies are needed to evaluate intervention timing to best support parent-child communication beyond the new diagnosis period.

Peer review status:ACCEPTED

14 Nov 2020Submitted to Pediatric Blood & Cancer
14 Nov 2020Submission Checks Completed
14 Nov 2020Assigned to Editor
17 Nov 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
06 Dec 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
20 Dec 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Major
10 Mar 20211st Revision Received
10 Mar 2021Assigned to Editor
10 Mar 2021Submission Checks Completed
10 Mar 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
06 Apr 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
06 Apr 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
14 Apr 20212nd Revision Received
14 Apr 2021Submission Checks Completed
14 Apr 2021Assigned to Editor
15 Apr 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
15 Apr 2021Editorial Decision: Accept