Influence of Parental and Family Adjustment on the Later Psychological Adjustment of Children Treated for Cancer
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OBJECTIVE: To examine the relationship between parental adjustment and family adjustment during the period after the children's diagnosis of cancer and the psychological adjustment of children 2 years after their diagnosis. METHOD: The study used a prospective design. Children aged 2 to 5 years with cancer and their parents and families (n = 38) were assessed immediately after the children's diagnosis and again 2 years after the diagnosis. Path analysis was used to investigate the relationship between parental and family adjustment during the period after diagnosis and the psychological adjustment of the children 2 years after their diagnosis. RESULTS: Maternal adjustment during the period after the children's cancer was diagnosed had a significant relationship with the children's psychological adjustment 2 years after diagnosis. In contrast, the adjustment of fathers and family adjustment appeared to have a more limited impact on the later psychological adjustment of the children. CONCLUSION: The level of distress experienced by mothers after the children's diagnosis may have an important influence on the later psychological adjustment of the children. It is possible that this is due to the impact of maternal distress on the capacity of mothers to care for their children during the children's treatment for cancer.
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