A research paper published in the journal Cancer publishes the findings of research that examined the mental health and well-being of over 200 mothers with advanced cancer. The women all had at least one child under the age of 18, had metastatic cancer via Science Daily
The researchers found that for mothers with stage IV cancer, parenting concerns contributed to their psychological distress. Associated with lower quality of life; the women scored higher in both depression and anxiety than the general population in the United States. The scientists also found a mother’s emotional well-being (these participants’ scores were lower than in other people with cancer in the United States) was linked with whether she had talked with her children about her illness and concerns about how her illness will financially impact her children.
The news item is available from Science Daily
Cancer is a leading cause of death among women of parenting age in the United States. Women living with advanced or incurable cancer who have dependent children experience high rates of depression and anxiety as well as unique parenting challenges. To the authors’ knowledge, few studies to date have examined the parenting factors associated with health‐related quality of life (HRQOL) in women with advanced cancer.
The authors conducted a cross‐sectional, Web‐based survey of the psychosocial concerns of 224 women with a tumor‐node‐metastasis staging system of the AJCC stage IV solid tumor malignancy who had at least 1 child aged less than 18 years. Participants completed validated measures of HRQOL (Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy–General [FACT‐G]); depression and anxiety symptom severity; functional status; parenting concerns; and investigator‐designed questions to assess demographic, communication, and parenting characteristics. Multiple linear regression models were estimated to identify factors associated with FACT‐G total and subscale scores.
The mean FACT‐G score was 66 (standard deviation, 16). The mean Emotional Well‐Being subscale scores were particularly low (13; standard deviation, 5). In multivariable linear regression models, parenting variables explained nearly 40% of the HRQOL model variance. In the fully adjusted model, parenting concerns and the absence of parental prognostic communication with children both were found to be significantly associated with HRQOL scores. For each 1‐point increase in parenting concern severity, FACT‐G scores decreased by 4 points (P equal to .003).
Women with metastatic cancer who are parents of dependent children are at risk of high psychological distress and low HRQOL. Parenting factors may have a negative influence on HRQOL in this patient population. Cancer 2018. © 2018 American Cancer Society.