An exploration of the concepts of loss and grief as stress responses in Middle Eastern parents of children with cancer

Rami Masa'deh, Carol Hall, Jacqueline Collier

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BACKGROUND: Caring for a child with cancer has been found to have profound and sometimes long-lasting negative psychological effects on parents. Grief of those parents was less examined in Jordan than America and Europe. Many parents in studies carried out in other countries experienced shocke, disbelief and guilt about their child’s diagnosis. This pattern is similar to the stages of grief as identified by Kubler-Ross model and this association has been identified as potentially benefitting from being further explored in differing cultures such as the experiences of Middle-Eastern parents. Therefore, this study aims to examine the experience of mothers and fathers of children diagnosed with cancer in Jordan and explore whether their narratives reflect grieving as understood through the theoretical constructs of Kubler-Ross. This study investigated the applicability of the Western grief model in an Arab community.

METHODS: Using a qualitative approach, 24 parents of children with cancer were interviewed. The participants were recruited recruited from the biggest cancer specialist centre in Jordan. Thematic analysis was use to analyse their results.

RESULTS: It was clear that the emotional reactions of Jordanian parents of children with cancer fit with Kubler-Ross’ loss and grief model. Jordanian parents of children with cancer reported experiencing denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance.

CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study provide evidence that the reactions of Jordanian parents offer a clear direction for the applicability of care strategies from other communities with culturally different backgrounds. Jordanian parents, health care providers and particularly nurses should be aware that parental grieving process as identified by Kubler-Ross’ model can be experienced by those receiving a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness in their child and is individualised, normal and most often ends with acceptance. Therefore, a supporting framework to those parents should take into consideration their stage of grief. Nurses and parents should know that they do not have to push the stages; acceptance will be reached once the individual is ready
Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Journal of Health Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017

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