Psychosocial Interventions for Parents with Incurable End-Stage Cancer: A Rapid Evidence Assessment

Vera Steiner, Aron Shlonsky, Lynette Joubert

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Parenting is a primary concern for patients with minor children facing palliative-stage cancer, yet psychosocial support addressing parenting concerns during end-stage cancer is not routinely provided in the healthcare setting. The purpose of this review is to: (a) identify evaluation studies describing psychosocial interventions for parents with incurable end-stage cancer; and (b) review the effectiveness evidence. Method: This review was based on a rapid evidence assessment using transparent and comprehensive search terms and narrative synthesis. Inclusion criteria were broad and consisted of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method studies that focused on psychosocial interventions for parents with advanced cancer. Results: Four studies were identified, but only one of these reported results specific to parents with end-stage cancer. A child-centred and family-focused approach was central to all program interventions. All programs encompassed a structured format with the majority being dedicated to providing both individual and family sessions. The studies varied in methodological quality and all used small, non-representative samples limiting the generalisability of the findings. There were no high quality quantitative studies that specifically address outcomes for this parent group and few qualitative studies that detail parents’ intervention experience. Conclusions: The findings suggest that targeted, child-centred, family-focused psychosocial interventions are sometimes used to support adult patients with parenting during end-stage cancer. These purport to promote child-parent communication and to contribute to parent psychosocial wellbeing. Further research using larger parent populations from diverse sociodemographic backgrounds is required. More importantly, comparative effectiveness studies are needed that test the timing, delivery, and content of these interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-391
Number of pages11
JournalAustralian Psychologist
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


  • advanced cancer
  • palliative care
  • parental cancer
  • parenting
  • psychosocial intervention

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