Paper Presentation: Parent/Caregiver Experience — An Exploration of Experiences with the COVID-19 Pandemic in Parents of Children with Cancer (204-2)

3:30 – 4:30 pm Thursday, October 28

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a global pandemic that has caused significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. The uncertainty of COVID-19 may lead to significant mental health consequences for childhood cancer survivors and children experiencing cancer treatment, as well as their parents.

Though early outcomes in the general population have been reported, little is known about the physical and emotional outcomes for children with cancer and their caregivers. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of parents of children with cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic. This cross-sectional pilot study used Facebook advertisements to recruit parents of children with cancer. Participants included mostly mothers (97%, M = 41 years of age, SD = 4.71). The sample of children was 54% (n = 31) male and averaged 5.62 (SD = 4.17) years of age at diagnosis. Half of the children (n = 30) had a diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The majority (67.8%, n = 40) were in survivorship care and 24% (n = 14) were in maintenance therapy. There were no delays in active therapy; 17% (n = 10) reported delays or changes in routine follow-up. Thirty-five percent of parents (n = 20) reported a considerable to significant negative emotional impact as a result of hospital policies limiting visitors. More than half of moms reported worse parenting, physical activity (exercise), eating, and sleeping as a result of COVID-19. The majority (89.8%, n = 53) reported greater anxiety. Parent report of distress resulting from COVID-19 averaged 6.78 (SD = 2.34) on a scale of 1 to 10. Moms reported similar distress scores for their children (M = 6.59, SD = 2.39). Moms were likely to agree (55%, n = 33) to the COVID-19 vaccine; however, 76% (n = 44) were concerned about vaccine side effects. Results suggest mothers of children with cancer are experiencing significant negative physical and emotional effects from the COVID-19 pandemic. Though mothers are likely to vaccinate their children, they have concerns about the side effects and efficacy of the vaccine and the accuracy of the information they are receiving.

Micah Skeens, PhD APRN
CNE Hours: