Photovoice with pediatric cancer parents: Understanding difficulties and communicative behaviors for coping effectively

Gabriela Isela Morales, University of Texas at El Paso

Abstract

Pediatric cancer is a disease that not only affects children but their families as well. Both patients and their caregiving families have to cope with the many twists and turns that every day presents. This research study is aimed to understand and discover through the use of Photovoice—responding to questions through photographs and later narrating them—what difficulties and dilemmas parents face and what communicative behaviors and practices parents engage in to effectively care for their child. Living effectively with pediatric cancer involves more than medical regimens and treatment schedules. How this disease is communicated in public discourses, and how caregivers communicate with their children, the medical staff, and with family and friends plays an important role in how effective coping can occur. ^ Pediatric cancer parents involved with Candlelighters, an organization that helps children with cancer and their families, were recruited to be part of the study. The only requirement was for participants to be parents of children who had gone or were currently undergoing treatment for any type of cancer. Twelve participants were chosen for this study and asked to photograph, in one week, communicative behaviors and practices that they believed answered how they were able to effectively cope with their child's cancer. Narrations were then scheduled so participants could individually discuss the significance of the photos taken. ^ Parents emphasized the importance of recording their journey through pediatric cancer. While parents faced communicative difficulties and dilemmas as a result of public ignorance, or not being able to fully count on their spouses for support, they found solace in focusing on their child's care and in ensuring their wellbeing. Emphasizing play with artifacts like dolls and tricycles offered both the parent and the child a level of comfort. A pro-active follow-up approach involving being on top of treatment regimens and following through with medical staff was utilized by some to feel a degree of control in caregiving. This also led parents to engage in sharing their experiences with other parents and solving any potential problems by being verbally pro-active. Parents also emphasized honest communication among them and their children in order to keep building and maintaining a strong relationship. Parents were able to effectively deal with the emotional and affective aspects of caregiving by communicating with others for support, receiving help and guidance from family members, being cared for by "surrogate" family (e.g., hospital staff), and practicing one's faith.^

Subject Area

Speech Communication

Recommended Citation

Morales, Gabriela Isela, "Photovoice with pediatric cancer parents: Understanding difficulties and communicative behaviors for coping effectively" (2012). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1513111.
http://digitalcommons.utep.edu/dissertations/AAI1513111

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