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Adjustment, Children, Coping, Mediator, Moderator, Parental cancer, Stress, Theoretical model



  1. Su, Ying-hwa PhD, RN
  2. Ryan-Wenger, Nancy A. PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN


There is growing empirical evidence that various child and family factors are associated with children's reactions to parental cancer. Children having parents with cancer may respond to parental cancer in different ways in terms of bonadjustment and maladjustment. Children's maladjustment to this pervasive stressor is manifested by a wide variety of physiologic, psychologic, and behavioral stress responses. To date, research on children's adjustment to parental cancer has focused almost exclusively on documenting children's adjustment problems and on describing simple, direct association between the characteristics of children and/or their families, and children's adjustment. The gap in research and clinical practice lies in the lack of a comprehensive model to illuminate children's coping with parental cancer and to guide intervention programs. Based on a synthesis of the literature, this article proposes a model that specifies the relationships among the stressor of having a parent with cancer, moderators and mediator variables, and adjustment. This model can serve as a basis for future research and intervention programs.