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Parents' faith and hope during the pediatric palliative phase and the association with long-term parental adjustment.

Geest, I.M.M. van der, Heuvel-Eibrink, M.M. van den, Falkenburg, N., Michiels, E.M.C., Vliet, L. van, Pieters, R., Darlington A.S.E. Parents' faith and hope during the pediatric palliative phase and the association with long-term parental adjustment. Journal of Palliative Medicine: 2015, 18(5), 402-407
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Background
The loss of a child is associated with an increased risk for developing psychological problems. However, studies investigating the impact of parents’ faith and hope for a cure during the palliative phase on long-term parental psychological functioning are limited.

Objective
The study’s objective was to explore the role of faith and hope as a source of coping and indicator of long-term parental adjustment.

Methods
Eighty-nine parents of 57 children who died of cancer completed questionnaires retrospectively, exploring faith, hope, and sources of coping, and measuring parents’ current level of grief and depression.

Results
For 19 parents (21%) faith was very important during the palliative phase. The majority of parents remained hopeful for a meaningful time with their child (n = 68, 76%); a pain-free death (n = 58, 65%); and a cure (n = 30, 34%). Their child (n = 70, 79%) was parents’ main source of coping. Twelve parents (14%) suffered from traumatic grief, and 22 parents (25%) showed symptoms of depression. Parents’ faith was not associated with less long-term traumatic grief (OR = 0.86, p = 0.51) or symptoms of depression (OR = 0.95, p = 0.74), and parents’ hope for a cure was not related to more long-term traumatic grief (OR = 1.07, p = 0.71) or symptoms of depression (OR = 1.12, p = 0.47).

Conclusions
Faith was important for a minority of parents and was not associated with less long-term traumatic grief or symptoms of depression. The majority of parents remained hopeful. Hope for a cure was not associated with more long-term traumatic grief or symptoms of depression. (aut. ref.)