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Cancer Nurs. 1994 Feb;17(1):1-17.

The family's cancer journey: a literature review.

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Faculty of Nursing, Univerity of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.


Cancer is recognized by health professionals as a phenomenon experienced by the entire family, not just by the individual member diagnosed with the disease. This article is based on an examination of approximately 200 clinical papers and research studies written between 1970 and 1991. Four major dimensions of the family cancer experience were identified from the literature: developmental stage of the family, cancer illness trajectory, family responses to cancer, and health care provider behaviors. The most developed body of literature documents the family responses to cancer and health-care provider behaviors directed at these responses. Gaps in research knowledge are identified and directions and recommendations for future research are outlined.

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