Parent and Family Functioning in a Pediatric Cancer Population

Dahlia Mottahedeh, Pace University


The construct of quality of life was developed as a means to assess an individual’s functioning across a variety of domains, including physical, psychological, and social functioning. Due to the advances made in the medical treatment of childhood cancer, many children are surviving or living longer with the disease; therefore researchers have begun to look at the quality of life of pediatric cancer patients and their families. While studies have shown that caring for a child with cancer can negatively affect parent and family functioning, findings are inconsistent. The primary goal of the current study was to shift the focus onto the caregivers of pediatric cancer patients by specifically assessing the relationships between parental adjustment, parental stress, and family functioning. An evaluation of the effects of time since diagnosis and treatment intensity was conducted as well. Archival data from 67 caregivers of children receiving outpatient treatment for cancer was examined. Results indicated that lower parental adjustment predicted poorer family functioning, as did higher parental stress. No significant relationships were found between parental adjustment, parental stress, impact on family, and time since diagnosis. When comparing parents caring for children with brain tumors versus leukemia, no significant differences were found in regard to parent adjustment, stress, and family functioning. However, caregivers of children on active treatment were significantly more likely to be less adjusted (less emotional resources), report higher stress levels (higher parental distress, higher parent-child dysfunctional interactions, higher total stress) and endorse poorer family functioning. Exploratory analyses were conducted to assess the moderating effect of parental adjustment on parenting stress and impact on family. No significant interaction effects were found. Implications for clinical and school psychology are discussed.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Clinical psychology|Individual & family studies

Recommended Citation

Mottahedeh, Dahlia, "Parent and Family Functioning in a Pediatric Cancer Population" (2012). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3569005.



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