Pediatric oncologists' coping strategies for dealing with patient death

Leeat Granek, Maru Barrera, Katrin Scheinemann, Ute Bartels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


This research examined pediatric oncologists coping strategies when their patients died of cancer. Twenty-one pediatric oncologists at 2 Canadian pediatric academic hospitals were interviewed about their coping strategies when patients died or were in the process of dying. The grounded theory method of data collection and data analysis were used. Line-by-line coding was used to establish codes and themes and constant comparison was used to establish relations among emerging codes and themes. Pediatric oncologists used engagement coping strategies with primary and secondary responses including emotional regulation (social support and religion), problem solving (supporting families at end of life), cognitive restructuring (making a difference and research), and distraction (breaks, physical activity, hobbies and entertainment, spending time with own children). They also used disengagement coping strategies that included voluntary avoidance (compartmentalization and withdrawing from families at end of life). Given the chronic nature of patient death in pediatric oncology and the emotionally difficult nature of this work, medical institutions such as hospitals have a responsibility to assist pediatric oncologists in coping with this challenging aspect of their work. Future research is needed to evaluate how best to implement these changes on the institutional level to help oncologists cope with patient death and the effect of using these strategies on their quality of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-59
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Psychosocial Oncology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 3 Mar 2016


  • coping
  • grief
  • patient death
  • pediatric oncologists
  • qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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