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The psychological experience of pediatric oncology patients facing life-threatening situations: A systematic review with narrative synthesis

Emília Comas Carbonell, , Ester Busquets-Alibés
Palliative and Supportive Care pp 1-11; doi:10.1017/s1478951521000031

Abstract: Objective The purpose of this systematic review is to describe the elements of the psychological experience of pediatric oncology patients facing life-threatening situations and the corresponding care needs. Methods The study design is a systematic review following the PRISMA standard of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods research. The review was conducted using multiple databases, including Scopus, Web of Science, PubMed, and PsycINFO. The risk of bias of the articles was evaluated with the “Critical Appraisal Skills Programme.” Results A total of 21 articles met inclusion criteria. The analysis of the evidence revealed that the psychological experience involves changes in relationships, thoughts about death, emotional changes, physical symptoms, spiritual changes, and feelings of uncertainty. Significance of results The care needs identified are maintaining normality, controlling physical and psychological symptoms, and that maintaining hope is an important aspect for children. Whether or not the children want to talk about death is another important aspect that needs to be reflected upon, and it would be appropriate to consider, on an individual level, involving patients in the discussion on the diagnosis and treatment of the illness. Future research should be conducted from the children's perspective since most existing research is from the perspective of the family members or health professionals. Furthermore, it is recommended to take into account qualitative approaches that provide more detailed information on the patients’ subjectivity.
Keywords: Cancer / Child / Psychological factors / Systematic review

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