The Impact of Specialized Family Camps on Quality of Life and Hope in Families Who Are Coping with Pediatric Cancer
Cook, Ellen Claire
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BACKGROUND: Over the past several decades, specialized summer camps for children with cancer have been shown to have various positive results in those who attend. Family camps have become increasingly popular over the past few years, but the efficacy of family camps for specialized populations has not been well established through research. In addition, few studies have addressed the benefits of the camp experience over time, especially in regard to its impact on quality of life. The aim of this study was to learn whether or not the family camp experience increases the quality of life of families with a child with cancer, and whether or not these changes are maintained after the camp experience ends. In addition, this study examined the impact of camp on levels of hope, and analyzed how hope and social support contribute to the quality of life of those who attend camp. SUBJECTS: A total of 66 families participated in this study. Participants include parents, cancer patients or survivors, and siblings. Thirty-nine families who attended a specialized weekend camp participated in the study, and a control sample of 27 families who did not attend camp was recruited as well. METHOD: Questionnaire data was collected at three time points: pre-camp, post-camp, and a three-month follow up. Measures included a demographic questionnaire, age appropriate versions of the PedsQLTM 4.0 Generic Core Scales, the PedsQLTM 2.0 PedsQLTM 2.0 Family Impact Module, the Hope Scale (Adult and Child versions), the Young Children’s Hope Scale, and a brief follow-up questionnaire. RESULTS: Quality of life did not significantly increase in the camp group in the overall family unit. However, quality of life was shown to be significantly higher in the camp group than the control group at the beginning and end of camp. Siblings demonstrated a significant increase in quality of life when examined separately from the family unit. No significant changes in hope or differences in hope between groups were observed. DISCUSSION: Though this study did not demonstrate the efficacy of family camp as predicted, it did show that individual family members are impacted by camp in different ways. Camp has been show to benefit siblings in particular, which is indicated by improvement in quality of life, hope, and social support in this population. This study also shows that different results may be found using different measures of the same variables.