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A Collaborative Stress Management Initiative for Mothers of Cancer Children

Abstract

The article explored the psychological stress experienced by mothers who have cancerous children. The author proposed that support groups are advantageous in stress reduction among mothers of cancerous children. The author did an experimental research to establish his findings. The research is current and relevant to contemporary health issues. The sample size was somewhat small to come up with results that could be generalized. However, the findings can be used in practice in that mothers of cancerous children can be encouraged to join social support groups to cope with stress.

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Introduction

The article titled, “Informal Social Support: A Collaborative Stress Management Initiative for Mothers of Cancer Children” researched on how cancer in children affects the psychological health of their mothers. The author based his research on the fact that few research initiatives have been carried out to establish the problems a mother faces when her child has been diagnosed with cancer. The research seeks to determine how a mother is impacted and the strategies that can be employed to assist the mother and help her cope.

Overview of the research

The author supported his research by suggesting a new initiative that involves social support to help the mother. Being informal, the support is initiated by clinical staff in hospitals. Thus, the process should begin prior to the child’s diagnosis so that appropriate support is established once the family is aware of the child’s condition. Thus, Al-Momani used various survey strategies to collect decisive information to inform his research. Nursing students and health care workers were used during the research to determine the effectiveness of these strategies (Al-Momani, 2013).

Initial objectives/Hypotheses and results

Al-Momani’s initial objective was to come up with the best strategies to deal with stress in mothers of terminally ill children. It was hypothesized that having a social support group is advantageous in stress reduction among mothers. Stress is seen as a situation that can impact negatively on a person’s health (Langeveld, 2009). It becomes hard for the family, especially the mother, to handle the news of a child diagnosed with cancer. Such mothers are easily stressed because treatment of the condition in many cases involves the mother and the child.

The mother is significantly affected by the child’s cancerous condition since such a condition is unique, especially in cases where no family member has suffered from cancer before (Eiser, 2004). When a child has cancer, the mother is involved during treatment and caring for the child. Cancer has been portrayed as a dangerous disease through the media, thus many people are aware that it can cause death. This increases the stress on the mother. Some mothers might even go as far as thinking that their child will die sooner when cancer is diagnosed. This makes them more fearful, leading to increased stress levels and negative impact on the mother’s health. Such mothers can go as far as choosing to stay with the child at all times and refuse to interact with anyone close to them (Svavarsdottir & Sigurdardottir, 2013).

Prior research conducted has shown that both parents are affected by such diagnosis, with reported traumatic stress symptoms. The symptoms are characterized by avoidance, intrusive thoughts, and physiologic arousal. Thus, various stress reactions, including uncertainty, depression and anxiety, are witnessed in the parent. These symptoms mostly arise after the child’s diagnosis, but they decrease over time. This is dependent on the severity of the cancer. The parents exhibit stress reactions for a longer duration if the cancer is severe (Al-Momani, 2013).

Research Methods

Literature review

The author was able to provide a detailed literature review. Al-Momani based his research on the observations of professionals within the medical field who were exposed to mothers with terminally ill children. The literature review provided definitions of various terms that the author intended to use in his research and explanations of various occurrences in hospitals and homes as observed by professionals.

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Various academic sources were reviewed by the researcher in the course of trying to show their application in the research initiative and identifying the research gap. Many authors have already researched on the effect of cancer diagnoses on the child, but the mother has been ignored in many cases. This should not happen because the mother is always affected by the diagnosis. For instance, the author details a situation where mothers admitted to hospitals with their children spend most of the time crying. They become stressed because of their child’s condition. The child also becomes harder to treat as they become sad and cry when they realize that their mother is crying. Thus, both the mother and the child play an important role in ensuring that the sick child is treated effectively.

How current and relevant is the study?

The research is current and relevant to today’s existing health issues. Cases of childhood cancer are on the increase. The child’s family is highly affected and not the child alone. In any case, the mother is more informed about what the child suffers from in comparison to the child. Thus, the child may not feel scared about the consequences of their ailment, but the mother is left to suffer as she develops stress and becomes pitiful of their child’s health. Many research findings have suggested social support for the sick individual. Many of the studies have not considered the needs of the mother (Svavarsdottir & Sigurdardottir, 2013), thus Al-Momani came up with a research finding that is current and applicable.

Research type: Experimental

The specific objective of the research was to find the extent to which informal social support groups can be of assistance in dealing with stress among mothers of cancerous children. The research utilized an experimental design whereby mothers were surveyed on the impact of informal social groups. This group comprised of nursing students and health workers within a hospital. The survey was conducted to determine how much the mothers were helped and whether it led to a reduction in their stress levels. An experimental and a control group were used to ensure that the results were accurate and applicable. The researcher conducted a survey to determine the stress levels of mothers before the initiative to establish the definite changes that occurred due to the initiative (Al-Momani, 2013).

Sample size

The sample size of the research comprised of all mothers of cancerous children. The researcher established a requirement that all the mothers were to be fluent and able to read and write. Moreover, the child should have been admitted to the hospital within the last 24 hours after they were diagnosed with cancer. The author used convenience sampling to obtain an appropriate number of mothers to participate in the research. Mothers who agreed to participate, but did not want to commit to the initiative were considered as the control group. The research involved 120 mothers, with 80 agreeing to participate. An exclusion criterion was then used to establish an equal number for both control and experimental groups. This involved variables like whether a mother had undergone psychological support prior to the diagnosis, literacy levels, and whether they worked as health care professionals (Al-Momani, 2013). This strategy was able to establish a research group without bias.

Practicality of the research

The results obtained from the research are practical in real life situations. From the results, it was established that a higher percentage of mothers were satisfied by the initiative. Overall, 80% of mothers in the experimentation group regarded informal social support as helpful in the reduction of stress levels. Many of the mothers realized that their stress levels reduced significantly and it was easier to cope after the initiative. The author suggested that health professionals should take part in various strategies to help mothers of terminally ill children. Establishing support groups within hospitals is one of the most effective strategies that can help mothers discuss their problems. The mother and medical professionals, like nurses, provide a vital avenue for stress reduction and insight for the mothers. For instance, nursing students can be involved with caring for the child as the mother goes home or takes the time off from caring for their ill child.

Personally, I think the best application of the research results should involve the family as well. The entire extended family should be there to provide emotional and moral support. The child also feels motivated when there is moral support from the family. Thus, it becomes easier for the child to undergo a treatment regime.

Suggested Improvements

The research could have been improved if it considered a larger sample size. Having a larger sample size would facilitate valid generalizations that are easily applicable. The collection of samples depending on convenience and self-reports was also a weakness of the researcher’s methods of data collection. Thus, the author would have collected information that could lead to better generalizations if a larger sample size was considered and use questionnaires to collect data in place of self-reports.

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Is the writing straightforward?

The writing used in the article is straightforward. The author was able to detail the methods he used to collect data and the resulting conclusions. Moreover, the author minimized the use of technical terms, thus it was easy to read and understand the article.

Suggestions for further research

Further research should be conducted because various factors within the hospital environment can be sources of stress. For instance, certain information about the child’s diagnosis should not be revealed to the mother. The procedures might be frightening, and this can easily lead to increased stress levels.

Conclusion

The research was able to show the various strategies that can be used to reduce stress amongst mothers with children suffering from cancer. The researcher was able to detail the various problems that mothers of cancerous children face in reality, yet they have been overlooked. Mothers are easily impacted by the health of their children, thus knowledge that a child is suffering from cancer can be a major cause of stress. It is, therefore, important to establish mechanisms within hospitals to take care of both the mother and the child. The mother’s stress levels and psychological wellbeing should also be addressed to ensure that she is not affected negatively by the child’s health condition.

References

Al-Momani, S. M. (2013). Informal social support: a collaborative stress management initiative for mothers of cancer children. International Journal of Psychological Studies, 5(2), 19-31.

Eiser, C. (2004). Children with cancer: the quality of life. New York, NY: Routledge.

Langeveld, N. (2009). Cured of cancer : from childhood to adulthood quality of survival. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Svavarsdottir, E. K., & Sigurdardottir, A. O. (2013). Benefits of a brief therapeutic conversation intervention for families of children and adolescents in active cancer treatment. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 40(5), E346-E357.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, May 14). A Collaborative Stress Management Initiative for Mothers of Cancer Children. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/a-collaborative-stress-management-initiative-for-mothers-of-cancer-children/

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StudyCorgi. (2022, May 14). A Collaborative Stress Management Initiative for Mothers of Cancer Children. https://studycorgi.com/a-collaborative-stress-management-initiative-for-mothers-of-cancer-children/

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StudyCorgi. "A Collaborative Stress Management Initiative for Mothers of Cancer Children." May 14, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/a-collaborative-stress-management-initiative-for-mothers-of-cancer-children/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "A Collaborative Stress Management Initiative for Mothers of Cancer Children." May 14, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/a-collaborative-stress-management-initiative-for-mothers-of-cancer-children/.

References

StudyCorgi. (2022) 'A Collaborative Stress Management Initiative for Mothers of Cancer Children'. 14 May.

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