DOI: 10.1177/13674935231225715 ISSN: 1367-4935

Being the nurse for my child at home: A qualitative analysis of parental recognition, appraisal, and reactions to childhood cancer in Ghana

Adwoa Bemah Boamah Mensah, Humaima Nunoo, Kofi Boamah Mensah, Joshua Okyere, Veronica Millicent Dzomeku, Felix Apiribu, Kofi Agyenim Boateng, Comfort Asoogo, Edwina Opare-Lokko, Joe-Nat Clegg-Lamptey
  • Pediatrics
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health

Parental involvement in childhood cancer care is of utmost importance, but the understanding of parental recognition, appraisal, and reactions to childhood cancer in settings such as Ghana is limited. We conducted an empirical phenomenological study to explore these aspects among Ghanaian parents. Twenty parents were purposively sampled to participate in semi-structured interviews between June and September 2022. All interviews were transcribed and analysed using an inductive thematic approach. We found that parents recognised symptoms through personal observation and their child's self-report, often perceiving them as non-severe. Emotional reactions upon receiving their child's cancer diagnosis included psychological distress, fear, doubts, and confusion. Enduring emotions experienced by parents were fears of disease recurrence and impending death of their child. Parents assumed the role of nurses at home, monitoring therapy effects, managing pain and symptoms, and dressing wounds. In conclusion, parents in Ghana play a crucial role in the recognition, diagnosis, and treatment pathways of childhood cancer. To enhance their ability to recognise symptoms and take timely actions, it is recommended to implement media programs and health education initiatives targeting parents.

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