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Title page for ETD etd-06132011-144225

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Dunn, Madeleine Jackson
URN etd-06132011-144225
Title Posttraumatic stress symptoms, coping, emotion processes, and parenting in parents of children with cancer
Degree PhD
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Bruce E. Compas, Ph.D. Committee Chair
David Cole, Ph.D. Committee Member
Judy Garber, Ph.D. Committee Member
Linda G. Ashford, Ph.D. Committee Member
  • Parents
  • children with cancer
  • coping
  • stress
  • posttraumatic stress
  • parenting
Date of Defense 2011-06-09
Availability unrestricted
Parents of children with cancer are at increased risk for clinically-elevated posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This dissertation presents the results of two studies of rates, correlates, and predictors of PTSS and PTSD in a sample of parents of children with cancer. In the first study, rates of PTSS and PTSD are described in a sample of 60 parents close in time to their child’s diagnosis and one year later. Based on diagnostic interviews, 8% of parents met full criteria for PTSD and 47% met partial criteria for PTSD in the year following their child’s diagnosis. Parents’ coping strategies, general emotion processes, and previous traumatic events and reactions were examined in relation to their PTSD symptoms at one-year. Results indicated that parents’ coping strategies and traumatic reactions to previous traumatic events significantly predicted their cancer-related PTSD symptoms. In Study 2, parenting was examined as a correlate and outcome of parents’ psychological distress, coping, and general emotion processes in a sample of 31 parents of children with cancer. Parents’ distress was related to less behavioral control close to diagnosis but more psychological control one year later. These findings suggest that interventions with these parents should focus on teaching coping strategies and parenting skills, and medical centers may screen for at-risk parents by assessing traumatic reactions to previous traumatic events.
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