Parents of children with cancer: At-risk or resilient?

Sean Phipps*, Alanna Long, Victoria W. Willard, Yuko Okado, Melissa Hudson, Qinlei Huang, Hui Zhang, Robert Noll

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Objective To examine adjustment in parents of children with cancer using a design that minimizes focusing effects and allows for direct comparison with parents of healthy children. Method Parents of 305 children with cancer and a demographically similar sample of 231 parents of healthy children were evaluated using diagnostic interviews for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and questionnaire measures of posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and psychological growth (PG), as well as measures of global psychological functioning. Results Rates of current and lifetime PTSD in parents of children with cancer were low, and did not differ from comparison parents. Likewise, levels of PTSS were not significantly different from comparison parents, but differed as a function of time since diagnosis, with parents of children who were ≥5 years from diagnosis reporting significantly lower PTSS than comparison parents. PG was higher in parents of children with cancer than in comparison parents regardless of time since diagnosis. Conclusion Parents of children with cancer demonstrate resilience to this challenge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)914-925
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of pediatric psychology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 27 2014


  • cancer and oncology
  • parent stress
  • posttraumatic stress
  • resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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