Losing a parent to cancer as a teenager: Family cohesion in childhood, teenage, and young adulthood as perceived by bereaved and non-bereaved youths

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to investigate levels of perceived family cohesion during childhood, teenage years, and young adulthood in cancer-bereaved youths compared with non-bereaved peers.

METHODS: In this nationwide, population-based study, 622 (73%) young adults (aged 18-26) who had lost a parent to cancer 6 to 9 years previously, when they were teenagers (aged 13-16), and 330 (78%) non-bereaved peers from a matched random sample answered a study-specific questionnaire. Associations were assessed using multivariable logistic regression.

RESULTS: Compared with non-bereaved youths, the cancer-bereaved participants were more likely to report poor family cohesion during teenage years (odds ratio [OR] 1.6, 95% CI, 1.0-2.4, and 2.3, 95% CI, 1.5-3.5, for paternally and maternally bereaved youths, respectively). This was also seen in young adulthood among maternally bereaved participants (OR 2.5; 95% CI, 1.6-4.1), while there was no difference between paternally bereaved and non-bereaved youths. After controlling for a number of covariates (eg, year of birth, number of siblings, and depression), the adjusted ORs for poor family cohesion remained statistically significant. In a further analysis stratified for gender, this difference in perceived poor family cohesion was only noted in females.

CONCLUSION: Teenage loss of a parent to cancer was associated with perceived poor family cohesion during teenage years. This was also noted in young adulthood among the maternally bereaved. Females were more likely to report poor family cohesion. Our results indicate a need for increased awareness of family cohesion in bereaved-to-be families with teenage offspring, with special attention to gender roles.

Details

Authors
Organisations
External organisations
  • Karolinska Institutet
  • University of Gävle
  • University of Gothenburg
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Sciences
  • Cancer and Oncology

Keywords

  • Adolescents, Bereavement, Cancer, Family cohesion, Oncology, Parental death, Teenagers, Young adults
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1845-1853
Number of pages9
JournalPsycho-Oncology
Volume28
Issue number9
Early online date2019 Jun 27
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Sep
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

Bibliographic note

© 2019 The Authors Psycho-Oncology Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.