Childhood Cancer in Context: Sociodemographic Factors, Stress, and Psychological Distress Among Mothers and Children.

Bemis H, Yarboi J, Gerhardt CA, Vannatta K, Desjardins L, Murphy LK, Rodriguez EM, Compas BE
J Pediatr Psychol 40 733-43 09/01/2015

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To examine associations between sociodemographic factors (single parenthood, family income, education level, race), stress, and psychological distress among pediatric cancer patients and their mothers.

METHODS: Participants completed measures assessing sociodemographic variables, depressive symptoms, posttraumatic stress symptoms, general stress, and cancer-related stress within the first year of the child's (ages 5-17 years) cancer diagnosis or relapse. Mothers (N = 318) provided self-reports and parent report of their children; children aged 10-17 years (N = 151) completed self-reports.

RESULTS: Each sociodemographic variable demonstrated unique associations with mothers' and children's stress and distress in bivariate analyses. A cumulative sociodemographic risk measure was positively correlated with all stress and distress variables. In regression analyses predicting mothers' and children's distress, independent and cumulative sociodemographic measures were no longer significant when accounting for levels of stress.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings highlight the need to consider the ecological context of pediatric cancer, particularly the impact of sociodemographic disadvantage on stress and distress in this population.

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