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Long, Kristin (2012) DEVELOPMENTAL AND FAMILY-LEVEL DETERMINANTS OF SIBLING ADJUSTMENT TO CHILDHOOD CANCER. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Each year, 14,000 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer in the United States (Howlader et al., 2012). Significant biomedical advances have led to survival rates exceeding 80% (Jemal, et al., 2008). However, prolonged, complicated, and intensive treatment regimens often challenge and disrupt the entire family system, with effects extending to siblings. The present study examined the role of family risk factors in predicting distress among 209 siblings (ages 8-18) of children with cancer. Findings showed that greater sibling distress is independently associated with higher levels of sibling-reported problems with family functioning and parental psychological control, lower levels of sibling-reported maternal acceptance, and lower levels of paternal self-reported acceptance, with a similar trend for higher levels of parental posttraumatic stress. When examined as a function of sibling age, findings indicated that effects of sibling-reported maternal psychological control on sibling distress are stronger for older siblings, while effects of mother-reported problems with family roles on sibling distress are stronger for younger siblings. When the family risk factors were considered in combination, results supported a quadratic model in which the association between family risk and sibling distress was stronger at higher levels of cumulative family risk. Finally, hypotheses that a more positive family environment would buffer the negative influence of parent PTSS on sibling distress were largely unsupported. Together, findings support a family systems model of sibling adjustment to a brother’s or sister’s cancer diagnosis in which elevated sibling distress is predicted by higher levels of family risk factors, alone and in combination.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Long, Kristinkal45@pitt.eduKAL45
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMarsland, Annamarsland@pitt.eduMARSLAND
Committee MemberEwing,
Committee MemberNoll,
Committee MemberCampbell, Susansbcamp@pitt.eduSBCAMP
Committee MemberErickson, Kirkkiericks@pitt.eduKIERICKS
Committee MemberAlderfer,
Date: 27 September 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 4 June 2012
Approval Date: 27 September 2012
Submission Date: 12 July 2012
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 129
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: childhood cancer; sibling; family; psychosocial; distress; cumulative risk
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2012 00:16
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:00


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