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J Psychosoc Oncol. 2012;30(5):593-613. doi: 10.1080/07347332.2012.703771.

Children's positive dispositional attributes, parents' empathic responses, and children's responses to painful pediatric oncology treatment procedures.

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  • 1Karmanos Cancer Institute, Population Studies and Disparities Research Program, Detroit, MI 48201, USA.


Pain/distress during pediatric cancer treatments has substantial psychosocial consequences for children and families. The authors examined relationships between children's positive dispositional attributes, parents' empathic responses, and children's pain/distress responses to treatment procedures. Participants were 41 pediatric cancer patients and parents. Several weeks before treatment, parents rated children's resilience and positive dimensions of temperament. Parents' pretreatment empathic affective responses to their children were assessed. Children's pain/distress during treatments was rated by multiple independent raters. Children's resilience was significantly and positively associated with parents' empathic affective responses and negatively associated with children's pain/distress. Children's adaptability and attention focusing also showed positive relationships (p < 0.10) with parents' empathic responses. Parents' empathic responses mediated effects of children's resilience on children's pain/distress. Children's positive dispositional attributes influence their pain/distress during cancer treatments; however, these effects may be mediated by parents' empathic responses. These relationships provide critical understanding of the influence of parent-child relationships on coping with treatment.

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