Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Clinical Psychology

Committee Chair

Robert Cohen

Committee Member

Kristoffer Scott Berlin

Committee Member

Kathryn Helen Howell


This study examined children’s perceptions of how caregivers reacted to their expression of distress resulting from their self-identified most stressful life event. Perceptions of parental reactions were first categorized according to children’s cancer history (cancer group versus healthy comparison group) and type of event (cancer- versus non-cancer-related event) before identifying profiles of perceived caregiver reactions. Participants included 159 children and adolescents with a history of cancer and 45 children and adolescents without history of serious illness (8-17 years of age). Children reported on their perception of their caregivers’ reaction to their stressful event-related distress, as well as their cumulative stressful life events, positive and negative affect, family functioning (conflict, cohesion, and expressiveness), distress resulting from the stressful event (posttraumatic stress symptoms [PTSS]), and challenge-related growth. Caregivers reported their own mental health (depression, anxiety, PTSS), cumulative stressful life events, positive and negative affect, and the quality of the parent-child relationship. Children with cancer history who self-identified a cancer-related event as most stressful perceived their caregiver as reacting with more support and override than either children with cancer identifying a non-cancer event or their healthy comparison peers. No significant differences emerged for children in the cancer versus healthy comparison group when reporting a non-cancer related event. Latent profile analysis revealed three profiles of child-reported parent reactions: Supportive (74%), Variety (14%), and Non-Response (12%). These profiles generally did not significantly relate to child, parent, and family functioning factors. However, profiles differed in mean levels of children’s PTSS and challenge-related growth. A supportive pattern of caregiver reactions was related to low PTSS and high challenge-related growth. Findings highlight caregiver supportive responding to children’s distress as a possible mechanism facilitating resilience and growth, with caregiver responding thus emerging as a candidate for interventions targeting children’s adjustment.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.