Date of Award

Fall 12-2022

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Dr. Kathryn Anthony

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dr. L. Paul Strait

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dr. John Meyer

Committee Member 3 School



Adult children have a unique role in caregiving and decision-making for a parent diagnosed with a life-threatening illness or condition. In this qualitative study, 15 individuals participated in one-on-one interviews to share their experience seeking information for their parent’s life-threatening diagnosis. This study utilized deductive and inductive coding approaches through axial coding, and two coders analyzed the data through a lens of message convergence framework and uncertainty management. The results show participants engage in information seeking from personal connections to the medical field to retrieve additional information from a more familiar, trusted source. The participants managed uncertainty retrospectively by reassessing the stress of their parent’s illness to reduce uncertainty about the event to help them continue to cope. Family history, relationships, and emotions sit at the forefront of discussions and decisions surrounding adult children and their parents throughout the experience of treating the diagnosis. The goal for this study is to gather testimonials to analyze the ways adult children interact and process their parent’s diagnosis, which provides insight to decision-making, shifts in family dynamic and roles, and the overall experience facing families in the informal caregiving process. More research is needed to further investigate the complexities of health communication within the family, particularly surrounding caregiving and healthcare concerns, to provide more generalizable results.