Posttraumatic Growth in Adolescent Survivors of Cancer and Their Mothers and Fathers

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ObjectiveTo describe posttraumatic growth (PTG) following childhood cancer survival and its association with demographic and disease/treatment variables, perceived treatment severity and life threat, and posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS).MethodAdolescent survivors of cancer (N=150, ages 11–19), at least 1 year after treatment, and their mothers (N=146) and fathers (N=107) completed self-report measures of perceived treatment intensity and PTSS and a semistructured interview designed to identify posttraumatic responses and indicators of PTG including perceived positive changes for self, relationships, and life goals.ResultsA majority of adolescents and their mothers and fathers reported PTG. Greater perceived treatment severity and life threat, but not objective disease severity, was associated with PTG. PTG and PTSS were positively associated for the adolescent cancer survivors. Diagnosis after age 5 resulted in more perceived benefit and greater PTSS for adolescent survivors.ConclusionClarification of the concept and measurement of PTG after childhood cancer is warranted, as are prospective studies of the association of PTG and PTSS and the role of demographic variables and illness-specific appraisals.

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