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Project Description (2)

Stress and Emotion Regulation in Parents of Children with Cancer

Study Description

Parents’ psychological and emotional distress can make parenting difficult at any time, but the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric cancer are examples of major stressors that can present particularly significant challenges to the ability to function as a parent. Parents strive to provide information and emotional support to their child during their diagnosis and treatment, but high levels of their own psychological and emotional distress may interfere with their ability to do so. Research has shown that some parents of pediatric cancer patients may experience posttraumatic stress symptoms than other kinds of distress. PTSD symptoms in these parents may interfere with the information and emotional support they provide for their child, and parents’ emotion regulation strategies may determine the effect that PTSD symptoms ultimately have on parents’ behavior. The proposed research will examine how parents’ posttraumatic stress symptoms and emotion regulation strategies are related to the provision of information and support to children with cancer. This proposed research is in service to a long-term goal of expanding current research on how parents’ own psychological and emotional distress affects their parenting behavior. Further, the proposed research aims to identify emotion regulation strategies that may be important in accounting for the relation between psychological distress and parenting in order to illuminate new ways to intervene to help improve parenting. Using direct observations, semi-structured interviews, and questionnaires, this project will assess posttraumatic stress symptoms, emotion regulation, meta-emotion philosophy and parenting in 100 parents of children diagnosed with cancer. A model of the relations among PTSD symptoms, emotion regulation, meta-emotion philosophy and parenting will be tested.


National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Mental Health