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Peer Relationships of Children With Cancer: Homophily and Social Acceptance

Waller, Jennifer M (2011) Peer Relationships of Children With Cancer: Homophily and Social Acceptance. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Children undergoing treatment for malignancies may be at risk for adjustment difficulties as a result of physical symptoms or treatments related to their condition (e.g., missed school, lack of participation in extracurricular activities or sports, changes in appearance, fatigue). Children generally associate with peers who have similar social characteristics (e.g., aggressive children often befriend other aggressive children). By interrupting children's participation in social activities, cancer may disrupt these typical patterns of friendship. This study compared 84 children with cancer, ages 8-15 years, to 84 behaviorally similar, gender-, race-, and sex-matched, non-chronically peers, with regard to differences in patterns of peer affiliation, social acceptance and friendships. Sociometric data (Like Rating Scale, Revised Class Play, 3 Best Friends) were collected in children's classrooms from peers. Results did not confirm our hypothesis that the friendships of children with cancer would be less homophilious than friendships of non-chronically ill children with regard to gender, social acceptance, or behavioral reputation. There were group differences in similarity for gender, sensitive-isolated behavior, and friend nominations. However, in all instances, homophily was greater for children with cancer. Results provided mixed support for the hypothesis that children with cancer would have more social problems than comparisons. Children with cancer were more well liked than comparisons, but received fewer friend nominations and had fewer reciprocated friendships. Overall, these results suggest that children undergoing treatment for cancer have difficulty maintaining friendships during treatment and that friendships they do maintain are primarily with peers who are more similar to them.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Waller, Jennifer Mjmw150@pitt.eduJMW150
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairNoll, Robert
Committee MemberMarsland, Annamarsland@pitt.eduMARSLAND
Committee MemberCheong, Jeewonjcheong@pitt.eduJCHEONG
Committee MemberBukowski, William
Date: 27 January 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 19 October 2010
Approval Date: 27 January 2011
Submission Date: 22 October 2010
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: adolescents; cancer; children; chronic illness; friendship; homophily; peer relations; social acceptance; social development
Other ID:, etd-10222010-195542
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:03
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:50


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