The symptom experiences of Puerto Rican children undergoing cancer treatments and alleviation practices as reported by their mothers

Velda J. Gonzalez-Mercado, Phoebe D. Williams, Arthur R. Williams, Elsa Pedro, Gloria Colon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although symptoms during cancer treatments are prevalent and are important clinical outcomes of childhood cancer, the symptom experiences of Puerto Rican children along with the symptom alleviation/care practices that parents provide during cancer treatments have received limited attention. To examine the occurrence/severity of symptoms on the Therapy-Related Symptom Checklist-Children (TRSC-C), reported by mothers of Puerto Rican children undergoing cancer treatments and identifying mothers' symptom alleviation/management strategies. Descriptive study conducted between January and May 2012. Mothers of 65 Puerto Rican children/adolescents undergoing cancer treatments responded to the Spanish versions of the TRSC-C, Symptom Alleviation: Self-Care Methods, and a Demographic and Health form. The children/adolescents' mean age was 9.2 (1-17) years; 62% were boys; 56 had chemotherapy; 9 had chemoradiotherapy. Children diagnoses were 35.4% leukemia, 24.6% solid tumors, 24.6% nervous system tumors, and 15.4% other. On the TRSC-C, the symptoms experienced by 70% or more of the children were: irritability (77%), nausea (75%), and hair loss (72%). On the Symptom Alleviation: Self-Care Methods, the most commonly reported symptom alleviation category was “taking prescribed medicines.” Puerto Rican mothers reported the use of alleviation practices to treat their children experiencing symptoms during pediatric cancer treatments. Patients and caregivers need to be educated about treatment-induced side effects, and the life-threatening consequences of underreporting and undermanagement. Symptoms should always be addressed at the time of initiation of primary or adjuvant cancer therapy because pretreatment symptoms may persist or get worse across the trajectory of treatment. A continuous assessment and management of symptoms during the childhood cancer trajectory can optimize clinical care and improve quality of life of patients and families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12500
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • cancer
  • cancer therapy
  • nursing
  • parent/caregiver care
  • pediatric
  • symptom monitoring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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