The psychological, psychosocial and emotional wellbeing of children and young people with leukaemia
Leukaemia is the most common childhood cancer, and with the success of current treatment, it has an overall survival rate of up to 92%. Despite this, treatment does not come without consequences. As a result, it is no surprise that recent research has examined the long-term implications of this treatment.
An integrative review was conducted to capture a broad range of primary research studies from both quantitative and qualitative perspectives. Four electronic databases were searched, displaying 3239 articles, of which nine met all the inclusion criteria. This integrative review explores these studies, using thematic analysis, with the purpose of identifying the impact this disease has on the psychological, psychosocial and emotional wellbeing of children and young people (CYP) diagnosed with leukaemia.
The review highlighted the vast impact that a leukaemia diagnosis can have on CYP and five main trends emerged: experienced emotions; relationships with peers; relationships with family; academic challenges; and differentiating factors.
As a result of the findings, it is recommended that CYP receive psychological support from diagnosis, with a regular reassessment throughout treatment. Parents and carers require support to enable them to efficiently care for their children. It is evident from this review that further research in this area would be beneficial to address some gaps in the literature.
The World Health Organization (WHO) (2021) has estimated that 400 000 children and adolescents develop cancer each year. Leukaemia is one of the most common forms of cancer within the paediatric population (WHO, 2021). It is estimated that there are at least 35 000 people in the UK who are alive having been diagnosed with a childhood cancer and survived more than 5 years (Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group, 2022). Around 2500 children and young people (CYP) are diagnosed every year (Cancer Research UK, 2017; Children with Cancer UK, 2022a), with leukaemia likely accounting for the largest percentage of this population.
Years of medical research and trials have contributed to the survival rates for leukaemia in the UK now being between 70% and 92% (Children with Cancer UK, 2022b), successfully changing what was once an acute, life-threatening disease into a curable illness (Roick et al, 2020). However, it is important to note that this often comes at the cost of long-term side effects, the full consequences of which are not yet completely understood (Roick et al, 2020).
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