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PURPOSE: Chemotherapy for pediatric acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is very intensive and many, but not all centers, require extended hospitalization until neutrophil recovery. Child and family preferences, beliefs, and experiences around hospitalization have not been systematically assessed.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: We recruited children with AML and their parents from nine pediatric cancer centers across the United States for a qualitative interview about their experiences of neutropenia management. Interviews were analyzed using a conventional content analysis approach.
RESULTS: Of 116 eligible individuals, 86 (74.1%) agreed to participate. Interviews were conducted with 32 children and 54 parents from 57 families. Of these 57 families, 39 were cared for as inpatients and 18 were managed as outpatients. A very high proportion of respondents in both groups reported satisfaction with the discharge management strategy recommended by the treating institution: 86% (57 individuals) of respondents who experienced inpatient management and 85% (17 individuals) of respondents who experienced outpatient management expressed satisfaction. Respondent perceptions associated with satisfaction related to safety (access to emergency interventions, infection risk, close monitoring) and psychosocial concerns (family separation, low morale, social support). Respondents believed it could not be assumed that all children would have the same experience due to varied life circumstances.
CONCLUSION: Children with AML and their parents express a very high degree of satisfaction with the discharge strategy recommended by their treating institution. Respondents saw a nuanced tradeoff between patient safety and psychosocial concerns that was mediated by a child's life circumstances.