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Communication Challenges in Korean Families Coping With Adolescent Cancer

Heeyeon Son
Yesol Yang
Nancy Crego
Sharron L. Docherty
ONF 2020, 47(6), E190-E198 DOI: 10.1188/20.ONF.E190-E198

Purpose: To examine the family communication experience of Korean adolescents with cancer and their parents, including how adolescents and their parents verbally share feelings and concerns related to the adolescent’s cancer diagnosis with one another, and how emotional communication affects parent–adolescent relationships and the family’s coping abilities.

Participants & Setting: 20 participants (10 adolescents with cancer, aged 13–19 years, and their parents) at a university-affiliated hospital in Seoul, South Korea.

Methodologic Approach: Individual, semistructured interviews were conducted and analyzed based on a qualitative descriptive approach. Conventional content analysis was employed to analyze the data.

Findings: The overarching core theme developed from the content analysis and theme generation was “I cannot share my feelings.” This core theme is represented by three main themes: (a) restricted topics that I can share; (b) being closer, but a lack of depth; and (c) effects of restricted topics on their coping.

Implications for Nursing: Increased need for nursing awareness and culturally relevant assessment of emotional family communication needs between Korean adolescents with cancer and their family caregivers are necessary.

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