Changes in maternal distress and child-rearing strategies across treatment for pediatric cancer.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES To examine longitudinal changes in perceived stress, affective distress, and self-reported parenting strategies among mothers of children with cancer over the initial 6 months of diagnosis and treatment, and to examine relationships between changes in distress and subsequent parenting strategies. METHOD Questionnaire data were gathered regarding parental perceived stress, caregiver burden, affective distress, and parenting strategies from 65 mothers of children (mean age = 8.3 years) with cancer at 2-5, 12-14, and 22-24 weeks postdiagnosis. RESULTS Consistent with other studies in the literature, maternal affective distress decreased over the time course of the study. Perceived stress also decreased, while caregiver burden remained relatively stable. Parental consistency fluctuated over the study period, while other parenting strategies (i.e., control, nurturance, and responsiveness) remained stable. CONCLUSIONS Although maternal affective distress decreased following the initial diagnosis of cancer, sources of stress (e.g., caregiver burden) may remain stable, indicating the need for interventions to bolster parental coping resources.

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