Longitudinal study of parent caregiving self-efficacy and parent stress reactions with pediatric cancer treatment procedures

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Pain/distress during pediatric cancer treatments has substantial psychosocial consequences for children and families. We examined relationships between parents' caregiving self-efficacy, parents' affect in response to their children's cancer-related treatment procedures, and parents' symptoms of post-traumatic stress at follow-up.


Participants were 75 pediatric cancer patients and parents. On the day of each of three procedures (i.e., port-start, lumbar puncture, or bone marrow aspiration), parents rated their self-efficacy for six caregiving goals. Parents also self-reported their negative affect (i.e., state anxiety, negative mood, and distress) in response to each procedure. Three months after the last procedure, parents reported their level of post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS).


Higher parent self-efficacy about keeping children calm before treatment and/or keeping children calm during the procedure was associated with lower state anxiety. Self-efficacy for keeping the child calm during procedures was significantly correlated with distress in parents at the time of procedures, and self-efficacy for keeping the child calm before procedures was significantly correlated with PTSS. All three negative affect measures significantly mediated the effects of parents' caregiving self-efficacy for both goals on parents' PTSS 3 months later.


Parents' caregiving self-efficacy influences their immediate and longer-term distress reactions to their children's treatment procedures. These findings provide a more nuanced understanding of how parents' cognitions contribute to their ability to cope with their children's treatment and suggest the benefit of an intervention that targets parents' procedure-specific caregiver self-efficacy. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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