"We have found, time and again, that we need to approach and treat these types of traumatic stress from a family perspective," said study leader Anne E. Kazak, Ph.D., ABPP, director of Psychology and co-director of the Center for Pediatric Traumatic Stress at Children's Hospital. "Our understanding of these traumatic stress responses should build on existing strengths in families, while being sensitive to parents at higher risk for stress symptoms that may interfere with their daily functioning."
The Children's Hospital researchers recently published two studies of posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms in mothers and fathers of children with cancer. One, in the Oct. 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, focuses on parents' symptoms while their children's cancer treatments are going on. The study team found that among 119 mothers and 52 fathers, all but one parent had some PTS symptoms.
The second study, in the November issue of the Journal of Family Psychology, describes patterns of those stress symptoms in 98 couples who were parents of an adolescent survivor of childhood cancer. The adolescents had completed treatment an average of five years before the study. Although parents' PTS symptoms were less common than those found in parents during the period of their children's treatment, in a majority of families studied, at least one of the parents had moderate to severe PTS.
"We hope these findings will help mothers and fathers to understand it's normal to have stress symptoms in reaction to their children's cancer," said psychologist Melis
Contact: John Ascenzi
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia