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Bull Cancer. 2013 Mar;100(3):237-45. doi: 10.1684/bdc.2013.1712.

[Evaluation of a support group for children of parents with cancer after 4 years of experience].

[Article in French]

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Centre de lutte contre le cancer Alexis-Vautrin, service de soins de support aux patients en oncologie, psycho-oncologie, 6, avenue de Bourgogne, 54511 Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy, France.



When a parent is diagnosed with cancer, this is a major stress for him and his family. Children are often left out but perceive their parent's distress. This misunderstanding may cause multiple problems for their future. Support groups have been organized in order to limit these risks. After several years of practical experience and given its specific organisation, the care program's pertinence/benefit must be evaluated.


This study aimed to evaluate the first four years of existence of a support group for children of parents with cancer within a cancer centre (between September 2007 and April 2011). A questionnaire was sent to the participating families. The descriptive analysis of the results was anonymous. The questions focused on the organization, expectations, satisfactions, felt benefits or not and the future.


Sixteen of 30 families (53%) responded. The expectations were met in 87% of the cases especially with the establishment of an intra-family communication (90% of the cases). The sessions with several families were preferred as the other families' presence was perceived as a benefit without inconvenience (9 of 11 cases (82%). The support group was assistance for the future in most cases (10 of 13 cases (77%). There seems to be an evolution in the parent's awareness and anticipation concerning their children's need of information: 73% (22/30) of participation were at a curative stage.


The short-term benefits in relation to initial expectations are described in this study. They are based on a solid and structured organization that has been well accepted by the families. Despite a small cohort, these encouraging results should allow other care providers to take over the model. A longer term evaluation is obviously necessary, according special attention to developmental issues.


cancer; children; support group

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