Quality of Life of Multiethnic Adolescents Living with a Parent with Cancer


Background: Research evidence suggests a debilitating impact of the diagnosis of cancer on the quality of lifeof the afflicted individuals, their spouses and their families. However, relatively few studies have been carried outon the impact on the QOL of adolescents living with parents diagnosed with cancer. This paper presents a subanalysison the impact of parental cancer (colorectal, breast and lung) on adolescents. Materials and
Methods:This is a cross-sectional study on adolescents aged 13-18 years old. Upon ethical clearance obtained from UMMCMedical Ethics Committee, patients with colorectal, breast or lung cancer and their adolescent children wererecruited from the Clinical Oncology Unit of University of Malaya Medical Centre. Respondents who gaveconsent completed a demographic questionnaire and the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory, via the post, email,home visit or meetings at the clinics.
Results: 95 adolescents from 50 families responded, giving a response rateof 88 percent. The adolescent’s mean age was 16 years (ranging between 13-18 years). Adolescents with parentalcancer had the lowest mean score in emotional functioning (p<0.05). Male adolescents had significantly higherquality of life overall and in physical functioning compared to female adolescents. Adolescents with a fatherwith cancer had better school functioning compared to adolescents whose mothers had cancer. Families withhousehold income of RM 5000 and above have significantly better quality of life compared to families withlower household income.
Conclusions: Adolescent sons and daughters of parents with a cancer diagnosis showlowered QOL, particularly with reference to emotional functioning and school performance. Addressing theneeds of this young group has been slow and warrants special attention. Revisiting the risk and resilience factorsof adolescents might also inform tailored programs to address the needs of this neglected adolescent population.