Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Janet R. Hankin


The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships between social support, parent-child communication during pediatric cancer treatment-related medical procedures, and parent and child reactions to these procedures.

Cancer is the leading cause of disease-related death in children (ACS, 2012) and children and their parents both report that cancer-related medical procedures are worse than the disease itself (Hedstrom et al., 2003). Social support may serve as a buffer against parent and child negative responses to treatment.

One hundred and fifteen families were included in the analysis from two pediatric oncology treatment centers. Self-report questionnaire data and observational coding of video-recorded interactions in which a child experienced a cancer-related medical procedure were utilized. OLS and logistic regression models were employed for hypothesis testing. Four measures of social support were tested to predict eight measures of parent and child reactions to treatment, including parent anxiety before the procedure, parent personal distress and empathic concern before the procedure, parent positive and negative emotions after the procedure, parent and child procedure-related distress and child cooperation during the procedure. Multiple coders rated child distress and cooperation.

Various types of social support predicted parent and child reactions to treatment. Parents who had more situational social support, collected the day of a treatment procedure, had more empathic concern before the procedure and more positive affect after the procedure. Parents who had more social support associated with the clinic visit had more positive affect and had children who were more cooperative during the procedure. The more sources of social support a parent reported the lower their, and their child's, procedure-related distress.

Parent social support is important in the pediatric cancer medical procedure context. Children with cancer, and their parents, would benefit from increased social support resources, which could improve long-term psychosocial functioning for both children in treatment for cancer and their parents.

Included in

Sociology Commons