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Caregivers for patients undergoing hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) are susceptible to significant psychosocial distress. This cross-sectional study aimed to describe psychosocial support services offered and used by caregivers of pediatric primary immune deficiency (PID) during HCT at 35 hospitals across North America.
Caregivers of pediatric patients with PID were recruited by e-mail to participate in an anonymous 140-question survey instrument between April and May 2016 (N = 171).
Of those meeting inclusion criteria (53%), family counseling services were only offered to fewer than half of caregivers (42%). Of the survey participants not offered counseling services, the majority desired family counseling (70%) and sibling counseling (73%). That said, when offered counseling, utilization rates were low, with 22% of caregivers using family counseling and none using sibling counseling.
Significance of results
These results indicate the need to offer and tailor counseling services for families throughout the HCT process. Further research should focus on reducing barriers to utilization of counseling services such as offering bedside counseling services, online modalities, and/or financial assistance.
Pediatric bone marrow transplants represent a medically stressful, potentially traumatic experience for children and caregivers, and psychological support for parental caregivers is paramount to their long-term well-being. However, many medical centers do not have protocols in place to sustain caregiver well-being during these distressing experiences.
We report on a case of a 10-month-old infant with Wiskott Aldrich Syndrome who was hospitalized for bone marrow transplantation.
We describe the significant burden that fell upon caregivers during and after a bone marrow transplantation.
Significance of results:
This case helped guide our suggestions to improve care for caregivers. Several logistical hurdles could be overcome to alleviate some of these burdens. We suggest that a child psychologist or psychiatrist should be on patient care teams and be attentive to parental stress, impairments, or impediments to self-care, and signs of emergency of mental illness in this setting of medical trauma. Additionally, promotion of sleep hygiene and linkage to support systems can maximize resiliency. Finally, we believe that hospital administrators should partner with clinicians to facilitate routine support during highly stressful transitions of care.
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