Publications

Understanding differences in the long-term psychosocial adjustment of pediatric cancer patients and their parents: an individual differences resources model

The experience of childhood cancer is a major life stressor for children and their parents. There is substantial variability among pediatric cancer patients and their parents in their ability to cope with the cancer. Although other models typically focus on the psychological resources families use to broadly cope with a diagnosis of pediatric cancer, we present a model that focuses specifically how parents and children cope with the stress of invasive and often painful treatment episodes. Our resources model is further distinct with its focus on individual differences in personal (e.g., personality traits) and social (e.g., social support) resources and the role these differences may play in psychosocial adjustment of families confronting pediatric cancer. We use findings from the broader pediatric cancer research literature and our own 15-year program of research on individual differences in psychological resources and parents and children's responses to treatment episodes to provide empirical support for our model. Support was found for the six premises of the model: (a) parent resources influence their longer-term psychosocial adjustment, (b) parent resources influence children's responses to treatment episodes, (c) parent resources indirectly influence their longer-term psychosocial adjustment through their responses to treatment episodes, (d) children's personal resources influence how parent responses to treatment episodes, (e) children's resources influence their longer-term psychosocial adjustment, and (f) children's resources indirectly influence their longer-term psychosocial adjustment through their responses to treatment episodes. Understanding how the availability of resources influences parents and children confronting cancer provides a foundation for future research on individual differences in resources and offers other avenues through which clinicians can assess and treat families at risk for poor psychosocial adjustment during treatment and in their life beyond cancer treatments.