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Title page for ETD etd-05012014-225749

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Murphy, Alexandra Kathleen Timmins
Author's Email Address alexandra.murphy@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-05012014-225749
Title Static and Dynamic Predictors of Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms in Adolescents after Cancer Diagnosis
Degree Master of Science
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Bruce Compas Committee Chair
Megan Saylor Committee Member
  • Cancer
  • posttraumatic stress
  • parent-child communication
Date of Defense 2014-02-03
Availability unrestricted
Adolescents are at an increased risk for posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) after cancer diagnosis and a subset continue to exhibit symptoms years later. Previous studies have focused on categorizing and characterizing posttraumatic stress, generally years after diagnosis. The purpose of this study was to examine adolescent PTSS prospectively from time near cancer diagnosis to 12-month follow-up and to identify both static and dynamic, modifiable risk factors that predict adolescent symptoms over time. Ninety-eight adolescents with cancer, aged 10-18, and their parents self-reported PTSS, family SES and demographics, perceived life threat, and previous experience with cancer at T1. Three months after T1, a subset of 44 mothers and adolescents were videotaped discussing cancer and were coded with macro (harsh and withdrawn) and micro (solicits and validations) coding systems. At 12-month follow-up, adolescents and parents again reported PTSS. Female gender emerged as a static risk factor and maternal and adolescent PTSS at T1 as dynamic risk factors for subsequent adolescent PTSS. Maternal validations significantly mediated the relation between maternal PTSS at T1 and adolescent PTSS at follow-up. Results speak to the importance of intervening with distressed mothers and adolescents after cancer diagnosis and specifically targeting maternal communication that validates adolescents’ contributions.
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