Parental Adjustment: an Examination of Caregivers of Pediatric Cancer Survivors
Caregivers of survivors of pediatric cancer face ongoing social, emotional and financial challenges that may result in enduring illness- and caregiving-related distress. After patients complete treatment there are challenges that persist. Indeed, emerging physical and cognitive "late effects," resulting from the disease and treatment, require families to adapt to a new normal state that may require significant long-term follow-up and care by the survivor and their primary caregiver. This study compares the psychological adjustment of caregivers of pediatric cancer survivors with caregivers of healthy children. In addition, this study evaluates individual factors, such as family functioning and coping style, which may be associated with poorer adjustment among caregivers of pediatric cancer survivors. Caregivers of pediatric cancer survivors (n = 64) and caregivers of healthy children (n = 64) were recruited during regularly scheduled clinic visits to complete questionnaires including a demographic and illness questionnaire and measures of psychosocial functioning. A series of multivariate analyses of covariance were conducted to assess for differences in caregiver distress by group. Caregivers of survivors reported significantly more child-specific parenting stress and somatization than caregivers of healthy children. Hierarchical regression modeling revealed that Escape-avoidance coping and Supportive family functioning predicted 25-40% of the variance in parenting-related psychological adjustment among caregivers of survivors. Caregivers of pediatric cancer survivors face unique challenges that contribute to ongoing distress, particularly related to the parenting role. This population may benefit from interventions aimed at reducing avoidance based coping and improving family functioning.
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