Date of Award

Summer 8-2011

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Bonnie C. Nicholson

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Emily B. Yowell

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Heather Sterling

Committee Member 3 Department



Parents of children with cancer experience higher stress than parents of children with other medical conditions or with no developmental concerns (Canam, 1993; Cohen, 1999). Researchers are beginning to explore a number of protective factors that may influence parental stress in parents of children with cancer. Social support (Abidin, 1992), problem-focused coping (Judge, 1998), and family hardiness (Maddi et al., 2006) have been related to lower levels of stress and more positive outcomes in parents of healthy children, but have not been fully explored in the pediatric cancer population. The current study was designed to assess the relationship between parental stress, social support, coping strategies, and family hardiness in mothers of children in active cancer treatment. It was hypothesized that: (a) problem-focused coping and social support would be inversely related to parenting stress and positively correlated with family hardiness, (b) emotion-focused and avoidance-based coping would be positively correlated with parenting stress and inversely related to family hardiness, (c) coping and family hardiness would emerge as significant predictors of parental stress when controlling for symptom severity and social support, and (d) hardiness would moderate the relationship between symptom severity and stress when controlling for social support. Results indicated that problem-focused coping and family hardiness did not emerge as unique predictors of parenting stress, and hardiness was not found to moderate the relationship between symptom severity and parenting stress. Future research for this population focusing on fathers, differing prognosis of the child, family hardiness of the current population, and limiting the research to specific types of cancer, treatment, or prognosis may be beneficial.

Doctoral dissertation: