Children with minimal chance for cure: parent proxy of the child’s health-related quality of life and the effect on parental physical and mental health during treatment
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To assess health-related quality of life (HRQOL) from the time of diagnosis until disease progression in a cohort of children with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). The assessment was collected from the perspectives of the child and their parents and evaluated the effect of the child’s HRQOL on their parents’ physical and mental well-being, thus providing insight into the optimal timing of palliative consultation, including anticipatory grief and bereavement services. This longitudinal study assessed 25 parents and their children, ages 2–17 years of age with DIPG across five time-points, baseline and weeks 2, 4, 6, 16, 24. Assessments included the PedsQL 4.0 Core Scales, PedsQL 3.0 Brain Tumor Scale, and Short-Form 36. HRQOL instruments were completed by the child (age ≥5 years) and parent-proxy (ages 2–17 years), with the parent completing the SF-36. Children’s reports and parents’ proxy of their child’s HRQOL indicated poor physical functioning and increased anxiety at the initiation of therapy. A trending improvement in the children’s HRQOL was reported by children and parents from baseline to week 6, with a decline at week 16. The childs’ parent proxy reported cognitive problems, procedural anxiety and lower overall brain tumor HRQOL were assoicated with poorer self-reported parental mental status. Palliative care consultation should be initiated at the time of diagnosis and is supported in the high physical and emotional symptom burden reported by our patients, with heightened involvement initiated at 16 weeks. Prompt palliative care involvement, mitigating anxiety associated with clinic visits and procedures, management of brain tumor specific symptoms, advanced care planning, anticipatory grief and bereavement services, and care coordination may maximize HRQOL for patients and ensure positive long-term outcomes for parents of children with DIPG.
KeywordsPediatric brain tumor Quality of life Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma Palliative care
This study was supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health Cancer Center Support Grant P30 CA 21765 and by the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC). A. Broniscer has a commerical research grant from AstraZeneca.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
No potential conflicts of interst were disclosed by the other authors.
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