1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne , Parkville, Victoria, Australia .
2 Social Work and Cultural Diversity, The Royal Melbourne Hospital , Parkville, Victoria, Australia; Department of Cancer Experience Research, Peter MacCallum Centre, Parkville, Victoria, Australia .
3 Department of Social Work, Faculty of Medicine, Dentristry and Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne , Parkville, Victoria, Australia .
4 Department of Social Work, Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University and Monash Health , Clayton, Victoria, Australia .
5 My Kite Will Fly Research Project, The Writing Practice , Melbourne, Victoria, Australia .
6 Centre for Women's Mental Health, Royal Women's Hospital , Parkville, Victoria, Australia .
7 Department of Psychiatry, The University of Melbourne , Parkville, Victoria, Australia .
8 International Gynecologic Cancer Society (IGCS) , Louisville, Kentucky.
The My Kite Will Fly (MKWF) research program is built on the well-documented need for effective clinical communication tools and therapeutic interventions where a child's mother is diagnosed with life-threatening gynecological cancer.
The Dignity Model and Child-Centered approach were two key study foundations in this pilot cohort. Quantitative survey and qualitative semistructured methods were employed to gather data from patient families at three distinct phases: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Palliative care. Participants were identified from patient groups at The Royal Women's Hospital and Peter MacCallum Cancer Center, Melbourne, Australia. A purposive sample (n = 36 children) (24 girls and 12 boys aged between 3 and 12 years) drawn from 19 families completed structured art therapy workbook activities. The principal researcher and a specialist educational assistant undertook cross-case thematic analysis of all interviews and children's drawings.
Five central themes were profiled in six illustrative case studies. Interviews with all families (n = 19) showed 86.1% positive evaluation of the MKWF workbook template at diagnosis. During treatments, 66.6% of parents reported better understanding of the chemotherapy process and better communication with younger family members. At palliative care, 97.3% of families reported stabilization of family routines and improved illness coping. Exit interviews with six children and surviving parents (n = 4) showed that the program substantially prepared them for parental bereavement.
Results from this pilot cohort confirm the importance of enhanced parent-child communication and stabilized family routines. Current results provide an important platform for future evaluative research among larger patient-family populations across multisite oncology settings.