Background: The loss of a child is associated with an increased risk for developing psychological problems. However, studies investigating the impact of parents' faith and hope for a cure during the palliative phase on long-term parental psychological functioning are limited. Objective: The study's objective was to explore the role of faith and hope as a source of coping and indicator of long-term parental adjustment. Methods: Eighty-nine parents of 57 children who died of cancer completed questionnaires retrospectively, exploring faith, hope, and sources of coping, and measuring parents' current level of grief and depression. Results: For 19 parents (21%) faith was very important during the palliative phase. The majority of parents remained hopeful for a meaningful time with their child (n=68, 76%); a pain-free death (n=58, 65%); and a cure (n=30, 34%). Their child (n=70, 79%) was parents' main source of coping. Twelve parents (14%) suffered from traumatic grief, and 22 parents (25%) showed symptoms of depression. Parents' faith was not associated with less long-term traumatic grief (OR=0.86, p=0.51) or symptoms of depression (OR=0.95, p=0.74), and parents' hope for a cure was not related to more long-term traumatic grief (OR=1.07, p=0.71) or symptoms of depression (OR=1.12, p=0.47). Conclusions: Faith was important for a minority of parents and was not associated with less long-term traumatic grief or symptoms of depression. The majority of parents remained hopeful. Hope for a cure was not associated with more long-term traumatic grief or symptoms of depression.

dx.doi.org/10.1089/jpm.2014.0287, hdl.handle.net/1765/84722
Journal of Palliative Medicine
Department of Pediatrics

van der Geest, I.M.M, van den Heuvel-Eibrink, M.M, Falkenburg, N, Michiels, E.M.C, van Vliet, L.M, Pieters, R, & Darlington, A.-S.E. (2015). Parents' Faith and Hope during the Pediatric Palliative Phase and the Association with Long-Term Parental Adjustment. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 18(5), 402–407. doi:10.1089/jpm.2014.0287