Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Clinical Psychology

Level of Stress and Depression among Mothers of Children Suffering from Cancer

Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Clinical Psychology

Level of Stress and Depression among Mothers of Children Suffering from Cancer

Article excerpt

Byline: Shazia Hasan and Waseem Fatima


Objectives: The aim of the present research was to investigate the psychological effects of cancer (ill family member) in mothers of children suffering from this disease. After reviewing the literature following hypotheses were formulated. (a) Stress level will be high in the mother of children with cancer as compared to the mother of children with out cancer;(b) Depression would be high in the mothers of children with cancer as compared to mothers of children with out cancer.

Duration and Place of Study: From Jan2008 to Dec2008 at Institute of Clinical Psychology, University of Karachi

Method: A sample of 45 mothers was selected through purposive sampling techniques from different hospitals and areas of Karachi-Pakistan during the year 2008. The entire sample (both of mother and children) divided in to two groups considering the independent group design, in which 20 children were suffering from cancer and 25 children were with out cancer (or control group) (of both gender). Their age ranged between 6 to 12 years. For children with cancer duration of physical illness was at least 1 to 2 years. While the educational level of mothers was at least metric and their socioeconomic level was middle class. After taking the informed consent the demographic sheet and The Parental Stress Index Scale (Abidin, 1995) were administered to assess the psychological effects on mothers.

Results: In order to interpret the results in statistical terminology, t- test and descriptive statistics was computed. Results indicate that there was a significant difference between level of stress and depression among mothers of children with and without cancer [t (43) =4.667, pless than.00]; [t (43) =2.369, pless than.02] respectively.

Conclusion: The findings from present research suggest that mothers of children suffering from cancer are more likely to have high level of stress and depression as compared to mother of normal children.

Key Words: Parental Stress; Cancer; Children; Depression


Prevalence of cancer at international level is very startling as 8.1 million new cancer cases are annually occurring in developing and developed courtiers, which has a 2.1 % growth rate annually.1 Cancer can affects people at different age levels. According to UK cancer research centre 2002 prevalence of childhood cancer is less than the cancer occurring in adult ages. The figures show that only 1500 cases of childhood cancer are reported annually while 275000 cases of adult cases were diagnosed with cancer. The death caused by cancer is overall increased in children. Although improved methods of treatment has increased the cure, as it was 30% in 1960's but has reached to 75 % in last 40 years. Even after the improved treatment methods the diagnosis of cancer has its significance for the child and the family. As the precarious nature of the disease not only affects the child himself/herself, it also has equally stressful effects on parents.2

Culturally Pakistani mothers are primarily responsible for child care. By and large fathers are the bread winners for the family and mothers have to take up all the household responsibilities mainly including child care. Both parents are affected emotionally after their child is diagnosed with cancer. Researches show that parental adjustment after cancer diagnosis of their child is found to be correlated with emotional anguish which results into high level of anxiety and depression; 3,4,5 6,7(cited in Michael, et al. 8) But at the same time other researches show specifically, that mothers of children with cancer suffer more than the fathers. 9, 10

For the most part the responsibility of treatment and care giving of the child stays with the mother. She spends maximum time with the child during the diagnosis and different treatment phases. Mothers are not only responsible for the child who needs special care they also have to pay attention to the siblings of the child and other day to day affairs of life which spare them with no time for themselves at all. …

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