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Advanced cancer in young parents (PWAC) can increase dying concerns, the fluctuating thoughts, or feelings, conscious, or unconscious, about an approaching death by a person facing a terminal illness or a family member coping with the impending death of a loved one. However, limited research has been conducted to identify dying concerns in an ill parent as the research has focused on older adults.
Our goal was to identify dying concerns that PWAC are expressing and to understand how these concerns affect measurable outcomes.
CINHAL, MEDLINE, PsychARTICLES, PsycINFO, Social Work Abstracts, Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition, and Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection were searched. Articles included were samples of PWAC, peer-reviewed, and published within the last 10 years. Elderly or pediatric populations, PWAC with adult children, and early-stage cancer were excluded. The initial search resulted in 1,526 articles, 18 were identified as potentially relevant. Fourteen articles were identified and reviewed.
PWAC expressed concerns for their children (n = 11), concerns for their co-parent (n = 4), and personal concerns (n = 11). Additionally, PWAC have decreased quality of life, have significant emotional and psychological distress, and have increased family dysfunction in relation to their concerns. Samples limit the generalizability of the findings. Majority of the articles consisted of White, upper, middle-class (n = 8) women (n = 7) diagnosed with breast cancer (n = 11) within nuclear families (n = 11).
Significance of results
Dying concerns are described in the literature from a fairly narrow sample of PWAC. Future research should focus on recruiting participants from diverse backgrounds, genders, diagnosis types, and non-nuclear families. Identifying concerns for the co-parent would also add to the understanding of dying concerns.
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