Psychological Distress in Mothers and Fathers of Children with Cancer: Posttraumatic Stress, Depression, and Anxiety Symptoms
Dunn, Madeleine Jackson
The current study examined posttraumatic stress (PTSS), depression, and anxiety symptoms in a sample of mothers and fathers of children with cancer. Mothers (n = 153) and fathers (n = 76) of 154 children with cancer completed self-report measures of psychological distress between 12 and 108 days after their child’s initial diagnosis or most recent date of relapse. Descriptive statistics and distributions of psychological symptoms were examined in detail. Significant relations among symptoms, demographic variables, and medical variables were relatively few in number and small in magnitude. Comparisons demonstrated that lower socioeconomic status and being a single parent may be risk factors for elevated psychological distress. The current findings suggest that a large percentage of mothers and fathers experience clinically-significant elevations in acute PTSS less than 4 months after their child’s diagnosis, but that these parents are generally not at risk for elevated depressive and generalized anxiety symptoms.