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Pediatric Oncology: The Use of Cluster Analysis to Examine Maternal Concerns

Ying-Mei Liu

Chao Hsing Yeh

pediatric cancer, pediatric oncology, symptom assessment
ONF 2010, 37(4), E304-E311. DOI: 10.1188/10.ONF.E304-E311

Purpose/Objectives: To examine data from mothers whose children have cancer and to identify the characteristics of uncertainty and distress that they reported. The objectives were (a) to use cluster analysis to identify subgroups of maternal uncertainty and distress, (b) to examine whether the subgroups differed based on demographics and children's illness-related variables, and (c) to explore whether mothers in the subgroups differed on quality of life (QOL) and hope.

Design: Descriptive, correlational study.

Setting: Pediatric oncology units in northern Taiwan.

Sample: 200 mothers of children with cancer.

Methods: Participants completed the Parental Perception of Uncertainty Scale, the Symptom Checklist-35-Revised, the Short-Form 36 Health Survey, the Herth Hope Index, and a demographic questionnaire. Cluster analyses were used to identify subgroups of mothers regarding maternal perceived uncertainty and distress. Differences in demographic variables, disease characteristics, and outcome measures were evaluated with descriptive statistics, analysis of variance, and chi-square analysis.

Main Research Variables: Subgroup, maternal uncertainty, distress, QOL, and hope.

Findings: Four subgroups were identified by the cluster analyses: high uncertainty and high distress, moderate uncertainty and moderate distress, low uncertainty and low distress, and high uncertainty and low distress.

Conclusions: The subgroup of mothers who reported low uncertainty and low distress reported the highest QOL and hope.

Implications for Nursing: The findings of this study provide insight for pediatric oncology clinicians and offer issues related to uncertainty, distress, and QOL that such professionals can discuss with the mothers of their patients.

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