Parents' emotional and social experiences of caring for a child through cleft treatment

Pauline A. Nelson, Susan A. Kirk, Ann Louise Caress, Anne Marie Glenny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)


Little is known about the experiences of parents caring for a child through long-term treatment for cleft lip and/or cleft palate. We conducted in-depth interviews with 35 parents with children between the ages of 20 weeks and 21 years to explore experiences across the treatment program. We analyzed the data using a constructivist grounded theory approach and present in detail in this article one subcategory from the analysis: managing emotions. Throughout childhood and adolescence, parents experienced conflicting emotions about their child's impairment, uncertainty about cleft treatment, and stigmatizing attitudes. Although parents attempted to manage emotional tensions by pursuing cleft treatments, the interventions could themselves be a source of conflict for them. We suggest that routine assessment of parents' emotional and social well-being should be included in cleft treatment programs, and access to psychosocial support made available.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-359
Number of pages14
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number3
Early online date2 Sep 2011
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


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