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01-03-2011 | Uitgave 1/2011

Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review 1/2011

Family Adjustment to Childhood Cancer: A Systematic Review

Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review > Uitgave 1/2011
Kristin A. Long, Anna L. Marsland


This systematic review integrates qualitative and quantitative research findings regarding family changes in the context of childhood cancer. Twenty-eight quantitative, 42 qualitative, and one mixed-method studies were reviewed. Included studies focused on family functioning, marital quality, and/or parenting in the context of pediatric cancer, were written in English, and were published between 1996 and 2009. Overall, qualitative findings show that families alter roles, responsibilities, and day-to-day functioning to accommodate the needs of children with cancer. Although some degree of family reorganization is normative, the extent and impact of these changes varies. Quantitative work shows that mean levels of family functioning (e.g., cohesion, flexibility) are similar between families facing cancer and normative or comparison samples. However, families follow different trajectories of improvement, decline, or stability in family closeness and marital quality. Parenting has received limited quantitative research attention, but qualitative work suggests that parents perceive deeper bonds with ill children and may spoil or overprotect them. Conclusions support future work examining the influence of family-level variables on the adjustment of individual family members.

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