Teenage children of women with breast cancer sought for research

A new study which will examine how best to help adolescents adjust to a mother’s illness is inviting teenagers of women with breast cancer to participate.

The survey at NUI Galway is focusing in particular on the impact of maternal breast cancer on sons and daughters aged 14 to 19 years.

The researchers are keen to hear from women - ideally mothers who have been diagnosed with breast cancer in the last year - who might be interested in their adolescent son or daughter taking part in the programme.

The study entitled Adolescent Adjustment to Maternal Breast Cancer, is being carried out under the direction of Dr Ann Marie Groarke from the School of Psychology and Professor Pat Dolan, the director of the Child and Family Research Centre and UNESCO Chair in Children Youth and Civic Engagement.

The research will examine the psychological impact of a mother’s breast cancer on teenage children and the benefits of an online skills based programme designed to help adolescents cope with this situation.The importance of family support for people with cancer is now well accepted but also there is increasing recognition that when someone in the family gets cancer other members also need help.

Dr Groarke, who has recently published work showing the benefits of stress management programmes for Irish women with breast cancer emphasises the “crucial need” for additional information on how a cancer diagnosis affects the entire family.

“Paying attention to adolescent response to parental illness can help us to identify the kind of support needed and enable the design of programmes targeting their needs.”

Professor Dolan, who has considerable research experience in child and family support, says many families are affected by breast cancer and their support needs are unspoken.

“This study is an opportunity for young people to discuss concerns and needs for reassurance for their families and themselves.”

Participation involves completing an online survey exploring adolescent needs and experiences and completing an online programme of approximately eight sessions. The latter covers themes such as communication, stress management and social skills /social support. The online intervention allows adolescents participate in their own time and at their own pace.

People interested in learning more about the study should contact researcher Leonor Rodriguez at the School of Psychology at (091 ) 493454 or email [email protected] or log onto http://ambcstudy.wordpress.com/

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