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Predicting posttraumatic stress symptoms in mothers and fathers of survivors of childhood cancers.

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Division of Oncology, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, PA 19104-4399, USA.



To predict posttraumatic stress symptoms in parents of survivors of childhood cancer, using as predictors the following: personality (trait anxiety); current family and individual variables (perceived life threat, perceived treatment intensity, life events, family functioning, and social support); posttreatment variables (time since treatment ended, child anxiety, medical sequelae); and treatment events (age at diagnosis, radiation therapy, intensity of treatment).


Mothers and fathers of 6- to 20-year-old survivors of childhood cancer (n = 331 families) completed a questionnaire battery in this two-site study. The outcome variable was the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Reaction Index. Multiple regressions and path analyses were used to test the model.


For both mothers and fathers, anxiety was the strongest predictor of posttraumatic stress symptoms. The current family and individual variables also contributed significantly, particularly with respect to the individual contributions of perceived life threat, perceived treatment intensity, and social support. Objective medical data did not contribute to posttraumatic stress symptoms.


Parental anxiety warrants attention throughout the course of treatment for childhood cancer and after treatment ends. Beliefs about past and present life threats associated with cancer treatment and family and social support are other important targets for intervention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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