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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Israeli Survivors of Childhood Cancer

Freda DeKeyser Ganz
Haya Raz
Doron Gothelf
Isaac Yaniv
Ilana Buchval
ONF 2010, 37(2), 160-167 DOI: 10.1188/10.ONF.160-167

Purpose/Objectives: To investigate the prevalence, symptom severity, and risk factors associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in childhood cancer survivors.

Design: Descriptive, correlational study.

Setting: Follow-up clinic in Petach Tikva, Israel.

Sample: Convenience sample of 70 adult Israeli survivors of childhood cancer.

Methods: Questionnaires (the Post-Traumatic Diagnostic Scale and the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support) were distributed to participants, and demographic and clinical data were obtained from medical records.

Main Research Variables: Post-traumatic stress, social support, and clinical and demographic data.

Findings: Twenty (29%) of the participants met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.) criteria for PTSD; 10% experienced mild, 40% moderate, and 50% moderate to severe symptoms. Only 16% of the sample did not experience any symptoms of PTSD. A statistically significant negative relationship was found between PTSD symptom scores and the current age of the respondent (rs = -0.27, p = 0.03) and time since medical treatment (rs = -0.34, p = 0.004) but not any other demographic or clinical variables or social support.

Conclusions: Higher severity of PTSD symptoms was found, possibly because of local living conditions. Most clinical and demographic variables were not risk factors. This population should be studied further in an effort to prevent PTSD via early diagnosis.

Implications for Nursing: Oncology nurses should be aware of the potential risk factors (recent completion of treatment and younger current age) and the high prevalence and severity of PTSD among survivors of childhood cancer to identify patients at higher risk and develop programs that prevent, limit, and treat PTSD.

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