Hanan El Malla has worked as a psychologist in Egypt for 14 years. Cancer care there is very different than that in Sweden, and the chances of a child surviving the disease are much lower.
As a doctoral student at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Hanan El Malla has looked at relevant psychosocial factors.
Limited confidence in treatments
Her thesis, which is based on in-depth interviews and questionnaires with the patients of children with cancer at the Children’s Cancer Hospital in Egypt, shows that:
• There is a link between Egyptian health professionals’ approach and parents’ limited confidence in treatments
• A third of parents report that their children do not adhere to prescribed medication on returning home, due mainly to the child’s resistance and insufficient information
• The majority of parents were told about the cancer diagnosis by the child’s doctor; fewer than half of these sessions were attended by the children themselves
• Survival five years after diagnosis was 58 percent
Goal: To improve cancer care
“The main aim of our studies is to improve cancer care in Egypt,” says Hanan El Malla. “While we cannot see any direct connection between survival and psychosocial factors, my thesis shows that greater trust between parents and physicians is an important factor in this work. One first step might therefore be to train health professionals in communication and how to approach patients.”
The researchers say that the results are also relevant for other countries with Arab populations, and probably also for minorities in Sweden.
The thesis “Improving Care of Children with Cancer in Egypt” was defended on January 10.
Hanan El Malla, doctoral student, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg firstname.lastname@example.org
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