Parental Distress During Pediatric Leukemia and Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms (PTSS) After Treatment Ends

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ObjectiveTo evaluate prospectively the association between parental anxiety during treatment for childhood leukemia and posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) after treatment ends. A secondary goal is to explore concurrent variables associated with parental avoidance after treatment ends.MethodsThis is a longitudinal follow-up study of 113 parents of children treated for leukemia who previously participated in a study of procedural distress during treatment. Data included parental self-report questionnaires completed during treatment and after treatment.ResultsUsing hierarchical multiple regression, we found anxiety during treatment to be a significant predictor of later PTSS for mothers, but not fathers. Anxiety, self-efficacy, posttraumatic growth and length of time since treatment ended were associated with parental avoidance.ConclusionsHighly anxious parents are at risk for PTSS and may benefit from approaches that decrease anxiety during treatment and afterward. Enhancing self-efficacy related to follow-up care and identifying positive aspects of the traumatic experiences are suggested as treatment approaches for families after cancer treatment.

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