A hospital-based behavioural intervention programme was developed for families of children with newly diagnosed or relapsed Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL). The programme’s aim was to enhance the families’ ability to cope with the emotionally distressing aspects of the illness and the medical treatment. Eight children and 10 parents participated in the programme for 12 weeks. The children received individual therapeutic play sessions and computer-assisted distraction activities, while the parents participated in a structured support group. The subjects were evaluated before, immediately after, and 6 months post-intervention, using both self-administered questionnaires and clinical observation by the psychosocial intervention team and the hospital staff.Findings indicated positive changes on the coping and the hopelessness measures, and an overall benefit for both parents and children. The hospital team reported better compliance and co-operation with treatment procedures by the children and their parents. The study concludes with an assessment of the benefits and feasibility of integrating a psychosocial programme into paediatric oncology services in Singapore.
In the last two decades there has been a surge of interest concerning the psychosocial correlates of life-threatening illnesses. Research in this area has focused especially on cancer and the possible link between immunology and psychological factors.
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