Caring for a Child With Cancer: Financial Problems Increase Burden on Parents
Madison, Wisconsin - Parents of children with cancer or brain tumors are more likely to exhibit symptoms of depression if they are also dealing with financial problems, according to new research from University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health researchers.
Dr. Whitney Witt, associate professor of population health sciences, obstetrics and gynecology, and pediatrics, has previously shown that a child’s cancer diagnosis was associated with a higher risk of depression symptoms among parents.
"Our new results suggest that it is likely not only the stress of caring for an ill child, but also the associated financial stresses that come with pediatric cancer care that contribute to depression in the parents," says Witt, the study’s senior author and principal investigator of the Lifecourse Epidemiology and Family Health (LEAF) Lab.
Witt and her team compared data from 75 parents of children diagnosed with cancer or brain tumors and a comparison group of 140 parents of healthy children. The researchers found that among parents who were caring for a child with cancer, those who had financial problems were nearly five times more likely to have high levels of depressive symptoms.
"Our research finds that financial difficulties are a major aspect of psychological distress for these parents. Efforts to help parents with the financial burden of childhood cancer might improve their mental health and, likely, help their children," said first author Paul Creswell, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Population Health Sciences. Other members of the research team include Lauren Wisk, Kristin Litzelman and Adelyn Allchin.
The research was supported by grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Waisman Center, the UW Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the UW Care for Kids Foundation. It is being published in Supportive Care in Cancer.
Date Published: 10/09/2013