Perceptions of children with cancer and their parents regarding illness: A qualitative study

Irit Schwartz-Attias*, Tamar Krulik, Anat Amit Aharon, Tammie Ronen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: The current study aims to understand inter-generational differences and similarities in the perception of illness and the available resources employed by children with cancer and their parents. Methods: A qualitative descriptive research design was utilized, including face-to-face interviews with 108 parent-child dyads where the children had been diagnosed with cancer, by means of a semi-structured questionnaire. The participants were recruited from two pediatric hematology-oncology wards in two different hospitals in Israel. The data were analyzed using conventional qualitative content analysis. Debriefing and inter-rater reliability methods were utilized. Findings: Similarities were found between the coping of children and parents with the illness. Children with cancer and their parents can find bright sides and support for coping, such as different perspectives on life, faith, positive thoughts, and family assistance. Most of the differences between the perceptions of children and parents relate to the difficulties encountered. While parents are mainly concerned about the long-term impact, children contend with ordeals involving the here-and-now. Conclusions: Parents and children demonstrate a dual process in their challenging journey. Positive and facilitating factors are intertwined with the aggravating aspects, which exist side by side. Practice implications: Nursing staff should advise children and their parents to attain and use external and internal sources of support found in this study to help them deal with cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-41
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pediatric Nursing
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2023


  • Childhood cancer
  • Facilitating factors
  • Positive factors
  • Qualitative study
  • Social support


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