Parent's with incurable cancer: 'Nuts and bolts' of how professionals can support parents to communicate with their dependent children

Cherith J Semple, Eilís McCaughan, Rachel Smith, Jeffrey R Hanna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: Parents with incurable cancer are often uncertain how, what and when is best to tell their children about their poor prognosis and prepare them for the actual death. Despite parents' desire and need for support from health and social care professionals (HSCPs), this is often lacking. HSCPs feel ill-equipped, identifying a need for an evidence-based communication framework for professionals to use in practice, promoting parent-child communication at end of life. Methods: A systematic process, involving a systematic review and data from 76 semi-structured, face-to-face qualitative interviews from three participant populations, including HSCPs (n = 32), bereaved parents (n = 21) and funeral directors (n = 23) were triangulated. This informed the development of the ‘Talking, Telling and Sharing’: End of life framework (6 W Grid), guided by an expert group. Results: An evidence-based, theory-driven communication framework has been developed. This provides a mechanism for HSCPs to proactively and directly engage with patients, addressing their parent-child communication concerns. Conclusion: Clear, evidence-based communication frameworks can enhance patient-provider communication in practice, particularly around sensitive and complex issue. Practice implications: There is a need for HSCPs to encourage parents to start these difficult conversations soon after receiving the poor prognosis, to avoid crisis management when the ill-parent is actively dying or throughout the immediate bereavement period.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPatient education and counseling
Early online date16 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished online - 16 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Parental cancer
  • End of life
  • Healthcare professionals
  • Communication framework
  • Qualitative


Dive into the research topics of 'Parent's with incurable cancer: 'Nuts and bolts' of how professionals can support parents to communicate with their dependent children'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this