Researchers at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis have found that more often than not, children's patient experiences are mirrored in their parents and vice versa. Their study, which appears in the May 15, 2006 issue of CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, says that parents of pediatric patients gave identical assessments of health related quality of life (HRQL) as their kid.
Quality of life assessments have assumed significance in recent times as an effective tool to measure the impact of cancer treatments. An example in this case is that if two drugs are equally effective in treating a disease but unequal in their impact on patients' quality of life, the one, which has a better effect on the HRQL, is chosen. It is generally accepted that doctors can rely on HRQL questionnaires answered by adults, but cannot be sure of a child's response. In such a scenario, a parent's response can mirror the child's response according to senior author Sean Phipps, Ph.D., and first author Kathryn M. W. Russell, M.S. of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. The researchers conducted a study of 199 children receiving cancer treatments and compared them with 108 healthy children in order to tally the response of the parents and children to the HRQL questionnaires. It was found that parents and children gave similar responses, more so in families that had a child suffering from cancer. "Although it would be preferable to obtain data from both informants," conclude the authors; "data can be obtained with reasonable confidence from either parent or child if only one informant is available."
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