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Title page for ETD etd-07122013-184255

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Bemis, Heather Michelle
Author's Email Address heather.m.bemis@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-07122013-184255
Title Sociodemographic Disadvantage, Stress, and Parenting in Mothers of Children with Cancer
Degree Master of Science
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Bruce E. Compas Committee Chair
Megan Saylor Committee Member
  • stress
  • parenting
  • parent-child communication
  • sociodemographic factors
  • sociodemographic disadvantage
  • pediatric cancer
Date of Defense 2013-07-11
Availability unrestricted
Though associations between sociodemographic disadvantage, stress, and parenting in the general population are well established, the impact of these factors on stress and parenting in pediatric populations is largely understudied. The purpose of the present research was to extend the existing literature to families facing pediatric cancer by examining whether increased stress may account for parenting behaviors among sociodemographically disadvantaged mothers of children with cancer. In Study 1, 318 mothers of children recently diagnosed with cancer reported on sociodemographic information, general stress, and cancer-related stress. In Study 2, 114 mothers from Study 1 participated in a direct observation task to assess positive and negative parenting behaviors during a discussion with their child about cancer. Lower income and lower education level were associated with greater levels of both general and cancer-related stress for mothers; single-parent status and greater number of children living in the home were also associated with increased levels of cancer-related stress. Several significant bivariate correlations emerged between sociodemographic factors and parenting behaviors. In multiple linear regression models, cancer-related stress partially accounted for the relationship between sociodemographic variables and positive parenting, while no predictors were significant in the model predicting negative parenting. Exploratory analyses also provided novel information on the specific subtypes of cancer-related stress that sociodemographic factors may generate for parents. This research highlights the need to consider the ecological context of families facing pediatric cancer. Implications for research, clinical intervention, and policy are discussed.
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