Children's understanding of maternal breast cancer: A qualitative study

Xiaoyan Huang, Margaret O'Connor, Yan Hu, Hongyun Gao, Susan Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To explore how children understand their mother's diagnosis of and treatment for breast cancer. Method: Interpretive description was adopted as the methodology in this study. Eight children aged 8–18 years old, whose mother has been diagnosed with non-terminal breast cancer, were interviewed individually and six of them drew a picture to express their understanding of maternal breast cancer. Results: Four themes were identified in this study: “the cancer word is scary” – children's understanding of cancer; “scars and tubes” – children's understanding of surgery; “hair loss” – children's understanding of chemotherapy, and “I can't explain it” – children's understanding of other treatments. Children's understanding of maternal breast cancer and its treatment was relatively realistic, although sometimes inaccurate. Conclusions: Individual evaluation and appropriate explanation is significant to further children's understanding of their mother's illness. Future studies with larger sample size are needed to explore the understanding for children of different ages, in order to provide specific help for these children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-14
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Oncology Nursing
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Children
  • Drawing
  • Maternal breast cancer
  • Qualitative study

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