To determine if caring for a child with cancer or a brain tumor affects parental health and mental health and if and to what extent stress mediates the relationship between case status and parental quality of life.
In person interviewer-assisted surveys were administered to 74 case dyads (children diagnosed with cancer or a brain tumor and their parents) and 129 control dyads (children without health problems and their parents from a community sample) to assess health-related quality of life and perceived levels of stress.
Parents of children with cancer or a brain tumor had significantly worse health-related quality of life, including worse overall mental health. Overall physical health was no different between cases and controls. Staged multivariate analysis revealed that worse health-related quality of life is completely mediated by perceived stress in these parents.
The experience of caring for a child with cancer is not in itself related to poor quality of life, but is related to an increased level of stress that may adversely impact parental mental health and quality of life.