Family functioning and adolescents' emotional and behavioral problems: when a parent has cancer

S.M. Gazendam-Donofrio, H.J. Hoekstra, W.T.A. van der Graaf, H.B. van de Wiel, Annemieke Visser, G.A. Huizinga, J.E. Hoekstra-Weebers

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Abstract

Background: This article focuses on possible relationships between functioning of adolescents with a parent diagnosed with cancer 1-5 years earlier and family environment.

Patients and methods: In all, 138 patients, 114 spouses and 221 adolescents completed the Family Environment Scale. Additionally, adolescents filled in the Impact of Event Scale and Youth Self-report and parents reported on the adolescents' functioning using the Child Behavior Checklist.

Results: Patients and spouses reported that their families differ from the norm; they are more expressive and social, better organized, less controlling and have less conflict. Adolescents reported the same and additionally find their family. Family environment was weakly to moderately strongly negatively related to the adolescents' functioning; family relationships related more strongly to the adolescents' functioning than family structure did. No significant relationship was found between family environment and the adolescents' cancer-related distress. Discrepancy in reports of family environment between parents and between parents and adolescents, in general, did not relate to the adolescents' functioning or distress. Parent-adolescent discrepancy only correlated with adolescent self-reports of their functioning.

Conclusion: Families with parental cancer functioned positively. Despite this, family functioning seems to be a risk factor for behavioral and emotional problems in adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1951-1956
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Volume18
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2007

Keywords

  • adolescents
  • distress
  • family environment
  • parental cancer
  • BREAST-CANCER
  • PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTRESS
  • EVENT SCALE
  • CHILDREN
  • PERCEPTIONS
  • IMPACT
  • COMMUNICATION
  • ADJUSTMENT
  • QUALITY
  • DISCREPANCIES

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