Graduation Year

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Paul B. Jacobsen

Keywords

hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, parenting, parenting self-efficacy, psycho-oncology, quality of life

Abstract

Despite the relatively large number of parents with cancer, relatively little is known about the extent to which having cancer affects the parenting experience. Qualitative studies have identified issues and concerns that create distress among parents with cancer, but quantitative studies have yet to be conducted. Studies demonstrate that parents with cancer experience psychological distress, and that parenting self-efficacy is related to psychological distress among parents without cancer. However, no study to date has examined the relationships between parenting self-efficacy and psychological distress among parents with cancer. This study sought to address these gaps in the literature by comparing parents with cancer to parents without cancer on measures of parenting self-efficacy and psychological distress. It was hypothesized that cancer patients would report lower parenting self-efficacy and higher levels of psychological distress than parents without cancer. This study also sought to explore whether parenting or general self-efficacy mediated the relationship between cancer status and psychological distress. A sample of 57 patients who had been diagnosed with cancer and undergone hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), and a control group of 57 parents with no history of cancer were recruited for participation in the study. Patients were recruited during routine outpatient visits or by mail, and controls were recruited using community outreach. Medical record reviews were conducted to assess clinical variables, and participants filled out a standard demographic questionnaire as well as self-report measures of parenting self-efficacy, general self-efficacy, and psychological distress. As hypothesized, results demonstrated that parents with cancer reported less parenting self-efficacy, and more psychological distress than controls (all p-values < .05). Furthermore, findings indicated that both parenting self-efficacy and general self-efficacy mediated the relationship between cancer status and psychological distress. This study fills several gaps in the quantitative literature on parenting with cancer, and suggests that both parenting and general self-efficacy are possible targets for interventions seeking to lessen distress among parents with cancer. Future research should use matched case-control designs to examine longitudinal relationships between parenting self-efficacy and psychological distress, and empirically evaluate interventions aimed at improving parenting and general self-efficacy.

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