A lump in throat: Qualitative study on hospitalization-related experiences among the parents of children with cancer

Rohollah Kalhor, Jalil Azimian, Soheyla Gholami, Fatemeh Darzi-Ramandi, Saeideh Moosavi, Mahnaz Layeghifar

DOI: 10.22122/cdj.v7i1.370


BACKGROUND: As the second leading cause of death, cancer is among the most stressful life events. It affects not only the afflicted patients, but also their families. Hospitalization of children with cancer faces their parents with many challenges and problems. This study was made to explore the hospitalization-related experiences among the parents of children with cancer.

METHODS: This qualitative phenomenological study was made in 2015–2016 in the hematology and oncology care unit of a teaching hospital located in Qazvin, Iran. Sampling was done purposefully and was ended once data saturation was achieved. Consequently, fifteen parents of children with cancer were recruited. Semi-structured interviews were held for data collection. The data were analyzed through the seven-step hermeneutic data analysis process proposed by Diekelmann and Ironside (1998).

RESULTS: Two main categories were extracted from the data which included “the shadow of government administration” and “the role of support systems”. The former refers mainly to accommodations in hospital settings and the process of clinical care delivery, while the latter points to the parents’ psychological experiences of presence in hospital settings. These themes came under the overarching main theme of “lump in throat: the suffering of the parents of children with cancer”.

CONCLUSION: Study findings reveal that parents’ experiences of hospitalization greatly depend on their perceptions of the environmental conditions of hospital settings. Moreover, the findings showed that negative hospitalization-related experiences could lead to many adverse consequences for patients, families, and healthcare providers.


Cancer; Children; Parents

Full Text:



Papastavrou E, Charalambous A, Tsangari H. Exploring the other side of cancer care: The informal caregiver. Eur J Oncol Nurs 2009; 13(2): 128-36.

Mousavi SM, Pourfeizi A, Dastgiri S. Childhood cancer in Iran. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 2010; 32(5): 376-82.

Kaatsch P. Epidemiology of childhood cancer. Cancer Treat Rev 2010; 36(4): 277-85.

Eiser C. Children with cancer: The quality of life. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers; 2004.

Del Nord R. Environmental stress prevention in children's hospital design: Technical guidelines and architectural suggestions. Milan, Italy: Federico Motta; 2006.

Pek JH, Chan YH, Yeoh AE, Quah TC, Tan PL, Aung L. Health-related quality of life in children with cancer undergoing treatment: A first look at the Singapore experience. Ann Acad Med Singapore 2010; 39(1): 43-8.

Keyvanara M, Roholamin L. Comparison of Physical Space of Pediatric Wards in Isfahan Hospitals with Standards. Health Inf Manage 2007; 4(1): 123-32. [In Persian].

Ivarsson B, Larsson S, Luhrs C, Sjoberg T. Serious complications in connection with cardiac surgery-next of kin's views on information and support. Intensive Crit Care Nurs 2011; 27(6): 331-7.

Mack JW, Wolfe J, Cook EF, Grier HE, Cleary PD, Weeks JC. Peace of mind and sense of purpose as core existential issues among parents of children with cancer. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2009; 163(6): 519-24.

Litzelman K, Catrine K, Gangnon R, Witt WP. Quality of life among parents of children with cancer or brain tumors: The impact of child characteristics and parental psychosocial factors. Qual Life Res 2011; 20(8): 1261-9.

Seyedamini B. Fears, needs and nursing support of mothers during their child's hospitalization. Iran J Nurs 2011; 24(27): 57-66. [In Persian].

Naifeh Khoury M, Abu-Saad Huijer H, Abi Abdallah Doumit M. Lebanese parents' experiences with a child with cancer. European Journal of Oncology Nursing 2013; 17: 16-21.

Trimm DR, Sanford JT. The process of family waiting during surgery. J Fam Nurs 2010; 16(4): 435-61.

Sayin Y, Aksoy G. The nurse's role in providing information to surgical patients and family members in Turkey: A descriptive study. AORN J 2012; 95(6): 772-87.

Fry S, Warren NA. Perceived needs of critical care family members: A phenomenological discourse. Crit Care Nurs Q 2007; 30(2): 181-8.

Wong P, Liamputtong P, Koch S, Rawson H. Families' experiences of their interactions with staff in an Australian intensive care unit (ICU): A qualitative study. Intensive Crit Care Nurs 2015; 31(1): 51-63.

Shakerinia I. Physician-patient relationship and patient's satisfaction. Iran J Med Ethics Hist Med 2009; 2(3): 9-16.

Majdalani MN, Doumit MA, Rahi AC. The lived experience of parents of children admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit in Lebanon. Int J Nurs Stud 2014; 51(2): 217-25.

Plakas S, Cant B, Taket A. The experiences of

families of critically ill patients in Greece: A social constructionist grounded theory study. Intensive Crit Care Nurs 2009; 25(1): 10-20.

Jadidi RA, Hekmatpou D, Eghbali A, Memari F. The experiences of parents of children with leukemia: A qualitative research. J Arak Uni Med Sci 2013; 15(9): 28-40. [In Persian].

Reimann S, Strech D. The representation of patient experience and satisfaction in physician rating sites. A criteria-based analysis of English- and German-language sites. BMC Health Serv Res 2010; 10: 332.

Fitzpatrick JJ, Kazer M. Encyclopedia of nursing research. Berlin, Germany: Springer Publishing Company; 2011.

Amaghionyeodiwe LA. Determinants of the choice of health care provider in Nigeria. Health Care Manag Sci 2008; 11(3): 215-27.

Amery H, Panahi M, Jafari A, Khalafi A, Alizadeh H, Abbaspour R. The reasons of private hospital selection by patients in Yazd province for treatment. J Torbat Heydariyeh Univ Med Sci 2013; 1(3): 37-42. [In Persian].

Ames KE, Rennick JE, Baillargeon S. A qualitative interpretive study exploring parents' perception of the parental role in the paediatric intensive care unit. Intensive Crit Care Nurs 2011; 27(3): 143-50.

Lam LW, Chang AM, Morrissey J. Parents' experiences of participation in the care of hospitalised children: A qualitative study. Int J Nurs Stud 2006; 43(5): 535-45.

Stone PW, Hughes R, Dailey M. Creating a safe and high-quality health care environment. In: Hughes RG, Editor. Patient safety and quality: An evidence-based handbook for nurses. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2008.

Bolton P, Bass J. Creative play for depression symptoms among school children survivors of war and displacement in Uganda. JAMA 2007; 171: 125-9.

Kirou-Mauro A, Harris K, Sinclair E, Selby D, Chow E. Are family proxies a valid source of information about cancer patients' quality of life at the end-of-life? A literature review. Journal of Cancer Pain & Symptom Palliation 2006; 2(2): 23-33.

Vallerand AH, Saunders MM, Anthony M. Perceptions of control over pain by patients with cancer and their caregivers. Pain Manag Nurs 2007; 8(2): 55-63.

Swore Fletcher BA, Dodd MJ, Schumacher KL, Miaskowski C. Symptom experience of family caregivers of patients with cancer. Oncol Nurs Forum 2008; 35(2): E23-E44.

Wu LM, Sheen JM, Shu HL, Chang SC, Hsiao CC. Predictors of anxiety and resilience in adolescents undergoing cancer treatment. J Adv Nurs 2013; 69(1): 158-66.

Kashani FL, Vaziri S, Esmaeil Akbari M, Jamshidifar Z, Mousavi M, Shirvani F. Spiritual interventions and distress in mothers of children with cancer. Procedia Soc Behav Sci 2014; 159: 224-7.

Kim Y, Carver CS, Spillers RL, Crammer C, Zhou ES. Individual and dyadic relations between spiritual well-being and quality of life among cancer survivors and their spousal caregivers. Psychooncology 2011; 20(7): 762-70.

Oskouiee M, Gavgavni MZ. Assessment of patient satisfaction with providing information and participation in treatment. Proceedings of the 1st Student Congress of Clinical Governance and Continuous Quality Improvement; 2012 Mar. 16-17; Tabriz, Iran. [In Persian].

Wills BS. The experiences of Hong Kong Chinese parents of children with acute lymphocytic leukemia. J Pediatr Nurs 1999; 14(4): 231-8.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Unported License which allows users to read, copy, distribute and make derivative works for non-commercial purposes from the material, as long as the author of the original work is cited properly.