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Jornal de Pediatria

Print version ISSN 0021-7557

Abstract

BELTRAO, Marcela Rosa L. R.; VASCONCELOS, Maria Gorete L.; PONTES, Cleide Maria  and  ALBUQUERQUE, Maria Clara. Childhood cancer: maternal perceptions and strategies for coping with diagnosis. J. Pediatr. (Rio J.) [online]. 2007, vol.83, n.6, pp. 562-566. ISSN 0021-7557.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0021-75572007000800014.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate maternal perceptions of childhood cancer and strategies for coping in a pediatric unit in Recife, Brazil. METHODS: This descriptive exploratory study was conducted using qualitative methods. The reports of 10 patients' mothers were analyzed according to a saturation sampling technique. The investigation was conducted in a pediatric oncology unit of the Instituto Materno-Infantil Professor Fernando Figueira. Fieldwork was carried out from March to May 2006 using observation techniques and recorded interviews to respond to three guiding questions. Content analysis and thematic coding were used, and recurrent themes were extracted from the categories identified. RESULTS: Mothers' ages ranged from 22 to 39 years, and two had only one child. The following themes stood out in the analysis of maternal perceptions of the moment that they were living: attitudes and feelings when the disease was diagnosed; information as support for coping; and social support. CONCLUSIONS: Maternal perceptions of childhood cancer revealed a shocking, painful and despairing experience, as well as a sensation of loss that made life meaningless. The sources of family support were individual religious beliefs, family members, healthcare team and friends.

Keywords : Cancer; chronic disease; diagnosis; child; family; social support.

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