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Article

Exploring Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms and Posttraumatic Growth among Children Living beyond Cancer and Their Parents Using an Actor–Partner Interdependence Model

1
School of Kinesiology, University of the Fraser Valley, Chilliwack, BC V2R 0N3, Canada
2
Department of Psychology, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada
3
Department of Psychology, California State University, Dominguez Hills, Carson, CA 90747, USA
4
Department of Oncology, Division of Psychosocial Oncology, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB T2N 4N1, Canada
5
Department of Community Health Sciences, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB T2N 4Z6, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Christina Signorelli
Cancers 2022, 14(3), 704; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers14030704
Received: 4 December 2021 / Revised: 24 January 2022 / Accepted: 25 January 2022 / Published: 29 January 2022
A diagnosis of childhood cancer, and its subsequent treatment, initiates a difficult and long-lasting experience for families which can result in posttraumatic stress symptoms. However, positive change, such as growth, may also occur. The relationship between posttraumatic stress symptoms and growth in the wake of childhood cancer is poorly understood. We sought to better understand the relationships between children’s posttraumatic stress symptoms and growth and those of their parents via a survey. The results from our study showed that the children and parents in our study were faring relatively well, reporting low levels of posttraumatic stress symptoms and moderate levels of growth. The children’s posttraumatic stress symptom score was not related to, nor did it predict their growth. The same was true for their parents wherein their posttraumatic stress symptom score was not related to, nor did it predict their growth. Notably, lower posttraumatic stress symptom scores among children were associated with greater growth in their parents, and vice versa, but the parents’ posttraumatic stress symptom score was not associated with the children’s growth.
There is a growing focus on describing both negative and positive outcomes in the wake of childhood cancer. The purpose of this study was to describe and explore the relationships between posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and posttraumatic growth (PTG) among children living beyond cancer and one of their parents. As part of a larger online survey, 113 children (Mage at time of study = 15.82 (SD = 4.81); Mage at diagnosis = 5.86 (SD = 4.66)) and one of their parents completed questionnaires assessing PTSS and PTG. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the sample and levels of PTSS and PTG. Data were z-transformed and analyzed using bivariate correlations and t-tests. An actor–partner interdependence model (APIM) was used to test whether children’s and their parents’ PTSS was associated with their own PTG (actor effect) and the others’ PTG (partner effect). PTSS was low and PTG was moderate in this sample relative to scale ranges. There were no significant differences between the children’s and their parents’ PTSS (p = 0.535) or PTG (p = 0.534). Results from the APIM showed no significant actor effects (p = 0.185). A significant overall partner effect (p = 0.020) emerged. Lower PTSS for children was associated with greater PTG for their parents (b = −0.29, p = 0.018), but parent’s PTSS was not associated with children’s PTG (p = 0.434). This sample reported similar levels of PTSS and PTG to that which has been reported in the literature. Children and their parents’ scores on PTSS and PTG measures were not significantly different from one another. Children’s PTSS was negatively associated with their parents PTG, illuminating the ways in which PTSS and PTG may be related in the context of childhood cancer. Exploring family-based strategies to reduce PTSS and enhance PTG may be warranted, though further studies are required. View Full-Text
Keywords: pediatric cancer; childhood cancer survivor; survivorship; psychological health; APIM; parent-child; relationships pediatric cancer; childhood cancer survivor; survivorship; psychological health; APIM; parent-child; relationships
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MDPI and ACS Style

Wurz, A.; Patton, M.; Merz, E.L.; Hou, S.H.J.; Cho, S.; Schulte, F. Exploring Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms and Posttraumatic Growth among Children Living beyond Cancer and Their Parents Using an Actor–Partner Interdependence Model. Cancers 2022, 14, 704. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers14030704

AMA Style

Wurz A, Patton M, Merz EL, Hou SHJ, Cho S, Schulte F. Exploring Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms and Posttraumatic Growth among Children Living beyond Cancer and Their Parents Using an Actor–Partner Interdependence Model. Cancers. 2022; 14(3):704. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers14030704

Chicago/Turabian Style

Wurz, Amanda, Michaela Patton, Erin L. Merz, Sharon H.J. Hou, Sara Cho, and Fiona Schulte. 2022. "Exploring Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms and Posttraumatic Growth among Children Living beyond Cancer and Their Parents Using an Actor–Partner Interdependence Model" Cancers 14, no. 3: 704. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers14030704

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