Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 26, Issue 12, pp 4161–4168 | Cite as

Family interactions in childhood leukemia: an exploratory descriptive study

  • Jaefar Moghaddasi
  • Fariba Taleghani
  • Alireza Moafi
  • Azadeh Malekian
  • Mahrokh Keshvari
  • Mahnaz Ilkhani
Original Article



A child’s cancer not only affects the child in question, but also their family members and even closes relatives and friends. The nature of this disease is such that, while imposing a high level of care workload on the family, it also affects various family aspects including personal, familial, and social interactions and relationships, as well as family functioning. This study aims to describe family interactions in childhood leukemia.


This study was an exploratory descriptive study, conducted on 58 participants (40 family members and 18 members of the health team), with purposeful sampling and semi-structured interviews—63 personal interviews and four group interviews—in the research context of the Cancer Hospital in Isfahan, 2016–2017. Data analysis in this study was carried out with qualitative content analysis using the Graneheim method.


In the data analysis, four main categories and 13 subcategories were revealed. The first category, changes in roles, included the subcategories of super caregiver mother, supportive super father, role shift, self and others’ forgetfulness, and confusion in roles and tasks; the second category, changes in interpersonal relationships, included the subcategories of changes in spousal relationships, changes in parent-child relationships, and changes in relationships between children; the third category, changes in social interactions, included the subcategories of changes in relationships with relatives, changes in relationships with peers, changes in relationships with the therapy team, and changes in interaction with supportive social networks; and the fourth category, changes in relationship with God, included the subcategories of spiritual bond and spiritual illness.


Regarding the findings of this study, it is expected that health system policymakers in the country, while striving to strengthen the positive aspect of changes in family relationships and interactions, will develop and execute operational, comprehensive, and society-based plans in order to eliminate the barriers and problems of relationships within the family, as well as in relation to the larger community, taking into consideration the family’s cultural and social beliefs.


Child Leukemia Interaction Family Qualitative study Iran 



The authors thank the participants in the university training center attached to the IUMS in which the study was conducted; the financial support of the IUMS Vice-President for Research is sincerely appreciated as well.

Funding information

This research was conducted with the financial support of the Vice-Chancellor for Research, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences (IUMS, research project number 395268)

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical consideration

This study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences (No. IR.MUI.REC.1395030268). Written and oral consent was obtained from the participants. The location and time of the interviews were determined according to the participants’ comments. They were also assured of the confidentiality of their information and the right to resign from the research. Their names were classified and a code was assigned to each participant so as to provide access to the text of the interviews in the phases of analysis and report. Participants with negative and distressing experiences were psychologically supported by being referred to psychologists.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jaefar Moghaddasi
    • 1
  • Fariba Taleghani
    • 2
  • Alireza Moafi
    • 3
  • Azadeh Malekian
    • 4
  • Mahrokh Keshvari
    • 2
  • Mahnaz Ilkhani
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Nursing, School of Nursing and MidwiferyIsfahan University of Medical SciencesIsfahanIran
  2. 2.Nursing and Midwifery Care Research Center, Faculty of Nursing and MidwiferyIsfahan University of Medical SciencesIsfahanIran
  3. 3.Pediatric Hematology and OncologyIsfahan University of Medical SciencesIsfahanIran
  4. 4.Psychosomatic Research CenterIsfahan University of Medical SciencesIsfahanIran
  5. 5.Nursing-Midwifery Faculty University of Shahid BehashatiTehranIran

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