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Depression And Anxiety In Mothers Of Children With Cancer And How They Cope With It: A Cross-Sectional Hospital Based Study In Eastern India

Kaberi Bhattacharya, Sumita Pal, Prathama Guha, Rudra Prasad Acharyya, Gargi Dasgupta, Arunima Datta


Objective: Cancer is a chronic, long-term illness that affects not only the child but also the family as a whole. The family faces objective as well as subjective difficulties, e.g. stress, anxiety and depression. The burden is often experienced by mothers, since they take on the major responsibility of care giving. We conducted a study in mothers of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and determined whether their coping mechanisms were acceptable and if these mechanisms were helpful to reduce depression. 

Methods: Mothers of 58 children with Pre (precursor) B cell leukemia were evaluated using Beck's depressive inventory (BDI), Coping Health Inventory for Parents (CHIP), and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). 

Results: Coping with behaviors used by mothers of children with ALL was ineffective. The mothers mostly used coping behavior, which involved family life and relationships, and the parents' outlook on life of the affected child. The use of CHIP sub scale-type I, ie. “talking with other individuals/parents in my same situation” was significantly related to more use of sub scale-type II, ie. “doing things together as a family, involving all members of the family” are both were significantly related to STAI (p < 0.001). However total BDI score was not significantly related with any of the coping scores (BDI scores more than 9). Patients with higher BDI scores had lower scores in all sub scales of CHIP. 

Conclusions: Our subjects did not use social support and did not understand the medical situation through communication with other parents, or medical professionals. Fewer depressed patients used more coping skills. Educating the parents about healthy coping mechanism can be a good way to reduce stress. Encouraging social support networking and providing information about the disease may help to increase the acceptance among the mothers with ALL.

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depression; anxiety; coping; mothers; children with cancer

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