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Psychological Functioning, Post-Traumatic Growth, and Coping in Parents and Siblings of Adolescent Cancer Survivors

Andrea M. Turner-Sack
Rosanne Menna
Sarah R. Setchell
Cathy Maan
Danielle Cataudella
ONF 2016, 43(1), 48-56 DOI: 10.1188/16.ONF.48-56

Purpose/Objectives: To examine psychological functioning, post-traumatic growth (PTG), coping, and cancer-related characteristics of adolescent cancer survivors’ parents and siblings.

Design: Descriptive, correlational.

Setting: Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada.

Sample: Adolescents who finished cancer treatment 2–10 years prior (n = 31), as well as their parents (n = 30) and siblings (n = 18).

Methods: Participants completed self-report measures of psychological distress, PTG, life satisfaction, coping, and cancer-related characteristics.

Main Research Variables: Psychological functioning, PTG, and coping.

Findings: Parents’ and siblings’ PTG levels were similar to survivors’ PTG levels; however, parents reported higher PTG than siblings. Parents who used less avoidant coping, were younger, and had higher life satisfaction experienced less psychological distress. Parents whose survivor children used more active coping reported less psychological distress. Siblings who were older used more active coping, and the longer it had been since their brother or sister was diagnosed, the less avoidant coping they used.

Conclusions: Childhood and adolescent cancer affects survivors’ siblings and parents in unique ways.

Implications for Nursing: Relationship to the survivor, use of coping strategies, life satisfaction, and time since diagnosis affect family members’ postcancer experiences.

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