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Childhood acute myeloid leukaemia : an introduction to psychosocial issues
For decades the literature on paediatrics has acknowledged that hospitalised children must cope with a high level of stress and fear associated with invasive treatment experiences (Kristensson-Hallstrom 2000; Petrillo & Sanger 1980; Goldberger 1988; Ritchie et al., 1984; Zeigler & Prior 1994), As Ziegler and Prior (1994) clearly articulate, the hospitalised child is exposed to new faces, a strange environment, and unknown, potentially painful procedures, The findings presented in this paper look ar the challenge of hospitalisation in relation to a neglected area of psycho-social research, that of paediatric Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML). To date, although there is a wealth of scientific and clinical literature on AML, there is no work completed on the psycho-social experience of treatment for this diagnostic group. Although there has been considerable work looking at children's reactions to cancer generally, and Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) more specifically, there is no other work with a focus on childhood AML. This article seeks to make a contribution to beginning to understand the challenge of the initial period of diagnosis and treatment for childhood AML by presenting qualitative findings from a five year longitudinal study exploring the treatment experience for families coping with childhood leukaemia. A range of family members including the sick children, a well sibling, the mothers and one father of the AML families involved in the research provide insights that affirm the distress associated with the initial stage of treatment and the importance of prioritising a holistic, compassionate and supportive health care response.