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Title page for ETD etd-03302008-221648

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Foster, Terrah Leigh
Author's Email Address terrah.l.foster@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-03302008-221648
Title A Mixed Method Study of Continuing Bonds: Maintaining Connections After the Death of a Child
Degree PhD
Department Nursing Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Mary Jo Gilmer Committee Chair
Bruce E. Compas Committee Member
James C. Pace Committee Member
Mary S. Dietrich Committee Member
Melanie Lutenbacher Committee Member
  • bereavement
  • life-threatening illness
  • legacy
  • Children -- Death -- Psychological aspects
  • Palliative treatment
  • Children and death
Date of Defense 2008-03-03
Availability unrestricted
This mixed method study explored continuing bonds in children who lived with advanced cancer, as well as in bereaved families who lost a child to cancer. The study also examined associations among continuing bonds, coping strategies, and grief symptoms. Participants included 107 bereaved parents and siblings (ages 8-18) of 41 children who died from cancer. Survivors separately answered 2 open-ended questions and completed 3 questionnaires. Qualitative content analysis identified major themes related to continuing bonds, and quantitative correlations identified associations among continuing bonds, coping strategies, and grief symptoms. In sum, continuing bonds may be a response to stress for bereaved families and ill children, including both coping strategies and automatic responses, resulting in both positive and negative grief symptoms. This study contributes to the state of the science on continuing bonds within pediatric palliative care.
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