Purpose: This cross-sectional study described how school-aged children with cancer represent their symptoms and associated characteristics using draw-and-tell interviews.
Participants & Setting: 27 children aged 6–12 years receiving treatment for cancer at the Cancer Transplant Center at Primary Children’s Hospital, a tertiary pediatric hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Methodologic Approach: Children participated in draw-and-tell interviews while completing drawings depicting days when they felt well and days when they felt sick. Children’s drawings and accompanying explanations were analyzed qualitatively.
Findings: Children’s drawings related symptoms and the strategies children used to self-manage those symptoms. Nausea, fatigue, pain, and sadness were the most frequently reported symptoms. Strategies to manage symptoms most often included physical and psychosocial care strategies.
Implications for Nursing: Children with cancer were able to relate detailed descriptions of their symptoms and symptom self-management strategies when presented with developmentally sensitive approaches. Healthcare providers are well positioned to integrate arts-based approaches to symptom assessment and to support children in implementing their preferred strategies to alleviate symptoms.