Psychosocial care needs of parents with incurable end stage cancer

Ms Vera Steiner1, Dr Anita Morris2, Professor Lynette Joubert1, Professor Aron Shlonsky1

1The University Of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, 2Western Health, Melbourne, Australia


Explore current hospital-based supportive care interventions focused on addressing the psychosocial concerns and wellbeing of adults with incurable end-stage cancer who are parenting one or more children aged [0-18] years old.


This study comprised two phases:

1) A Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) to review peer-reviewed evaluation studies of psychosocial intervention studies targeting adults with incurable end-stage cancer who were parenting one or more children aged [0-18] years.

2) A multi-site retrospective clinical data-mining study using mixed methodology to review psychosocial supportive care practices conducted with parents diagnosed with incurable end-stage cancer who received treatment at Western Health Sunshine Hospital and Radiation Therapy Centre, Melbourne (a partnership between Western Health and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre).


Parents with incurable end-stage cancer represent a patient group at high risk of psychosocial distress. They experience unique and multiple psychosocial stressors that impact on their wellbeing, parenting, family functioning and healthcare choices. Key themes revealed parents’ psychosocial stressors and current hospital-based psychosocial practices largely aligned with those reported in the intervention research literature. Additional findings will be discussed.

Significance of the findings to allied health

The brief nature of hospital-based interventions with parents with incurable end-stage cancer poses an ongoing challenge for health professionals focused on delivering brief evidence-informed supportive care interventions. This collaborative study provides a valuable insight into the supportive care needs of this patient population and the psychosocial services provided by hospital-based healthcare professionals to enhance their psychosocial wellbeing.

This research project was supported by an “Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship”.