Problem-solving training helps moms of kids with cancer

A mother whose child is diagnosed with cancer can more easily handle the problems she faces if she receives training in problem-solving that is tailored to her needs, a new study indicates.

The training also appears to bolster her sense of well-being by reducing her emotional distress.

Mothers whose children face serious illness have lower levels of well-being than mothers in the general population, explains lead author Dr. Olle Jane Z. Sahler at the University of Rochester Medical Center. They are at particularly high risk for emotional distress immediately after their childs diagnosis. Previous research has shown that this maternal distress affects not only the mother, whose mental and physical health may suffer, but also the child, who is less likely to adjust to the illness as a result.

The studys findings, Sahler says, indicate that problem-solving skills training can help reduce maternal emotional distress associated with the diagnosis of a life-threatening disease in her child.

Sahler and her colleagues tested the effectiveness of a relatively new type of instruction, which they call problem-solving skills training, in helping these mothers cope and alleviate their emotional distress. The research teams findings appear in the April issue of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

The researchers recruited 92 mothers at six medical centers whose children had been diagnosed with cancer or a brain tumor within the previous 16 weeks. A mental health professional on the centers staff conducted a routine psychosocial assessment on each woman. In addition, the researchers evaluated each womans problem-solving approach and mood.

During the following eight weeks, all of the women received the standard psychosocial services provided by their medical centers, such as consultations with social workers. Fifty randomly selected women also attended weekly one-on-one sessions, where they practiced solving problems typically f

Contact: Travis Anderson
Center for the Advancement of Health

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