Coping with pediatric cancer: Strategies employed by children and their parents to manage cancer-related stressors during treatment

Aimee K. Hildenbrand, Kathleen J. Clawson, Melissa A. Alderfer, Meghan L. Marsac

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations

Abstract

Pediatric cancer patients and their families face significant physical, emotional, and psychosocial challenges. Few studies have investigated how children manage these challenges and how parents may help in the process. This qualitative study aimed to explore common cancer-related stressors for children and to examine child coping and parental assistance in coping with these stressors during treatment. Fifteen children undergoing cancer treatment and their parents participated in semistructured interviews. Four themes emerged capturing cancer-related stressors: cancer treatment/side effects, distressing emotions, disruption in daily routines, and social challenges. Six themes emerged regarding child coping strategies that were classified within an approach/avoidance coping framework. Approach coping strategies included the following: cognitive restructuring, relaxation, practical strategies, seeking social support, and emotional expression. Distraction was the only avoidant coping strategy. Parents tended to encourage approach coping strategies (eg, cognitive restructuring, social support). Within families, few coping strategies were reported (child: M = 1.47, SD = 0.99; parent: M = 3.33, SD = 1.18), suggesting that early family-based interventions teaching coping techniques for cancer-related stressors may be beneficial.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-354
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing
Volume28
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2011

Keywords

  • cancer-related stressors
  • coping
  • parent coping assistance
  • pediatric cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics
  • Oncology(nursing)

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