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Psychooncology. 2005 Sep;14(9):746-58.

Emotional and behavioural functioning of children of a parent diagnosed with cancer: a cross-informant perspective.

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Department of Health Psychology, Groningen University Medical Centre, The Netherlands.


This study investigates emotional and behavioural problems in children of parents diagnosed with cancer and examines the relationship with demographic and illness-related variables. Furthermore, agreement and differences between informants regarding child's functioning were examined. Members of 186 families in which a parent had been diagnosed with cancer participated. More emotional problems were reported for latency-aged sons (ill parents) and adolescent daughters (ill parents; self-reports), whereas also better functioning was reported in adolescent children (spouses), compared to the norm group. Age and gender-effects were found: latency-aged sons were perceived as having more emotional problems than adolescent sons (ill parents); adolescent daughters as having more emotional and behavioural problems than adolescent sons (ill parents; self-reports). Results indicated a higher prevalence of problems when the father was ill than when the mother was (spouses and self-reports). The treatment intensity affected adolescent daughter's functioning (spouses), whereas adolescent son's functioning was affected by relapsed disease (self-reports). Adolescents and mothers perceived comparable levels of problems, but fathers perceived problems in children to be less prevalent. Findings suggest that adolescent daughters and latency-aged sons are at risk for emotional problems following the diagnosis of cancer in a parent. The perception of child's functioning and potential influencing variables varied according to informant.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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