Immigrant to Canada, newcomer to childhood cancer: a qualitative study of challenges faced by immigrant parents

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Abstract

Background: Given the increasing numbers of immigrant families in Canada, it is imperative that healthcare providers (HCPs) understand the caregiving experiences of immigrant family caregivers. Our study aimed to explore any special challenges faced by immigrant parents of children with cancer and to identify supportive factors.

Methods: A constructivist grounded theory approach was used. Participants included 50 first generation Chinese and South Asian parents of children with cancer who were at least six months post-diagnosis. Recruitment took place at six Canadian pediatric oncology centres. Interviews were conducted in English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Urdu, Punjabi or Hindi. Analysis involved coding and the use of the constant comparison method. Interviewing continued until no new themes emerged.

Results: While immigrant parents described many challenges faced by any parent of a child with cancer, the context of being an immigrant made certain experiences particularly challenging. Parents described challenges in the following areas: managing caregiving demand and financial strain, accessing support from others, and interfacing with the healthcare system. Parents described receiving a range of practical, emotional, social and informational support from extended family, their workplace, other cancer families, community organizations and HCPs.

Conclusions: Our study addresses an important gap in the research literature by providing practical insight into the experiences of immigrant family caregivers. Our findings may help to inform the development of pediatric oncology policies and programs in ways that respond to the unique needs and challenges of culturally and linguistically diverse families. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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