Family influences on hopelessness among children early in the cancer experience

Alan D. Blotcky, James M. Raczynski, Robin Gurwitch, Karen Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


The present study examined the relationship between five aspects of family functioning and feelings of hopelessness among children early in the cancer experience. The Hopelessness Scale for Children (Kazdin, French, Unis, Esveldt-Dawson, & Sherick, 1983) as well as a variety of individual and fam ily measures were administered to 32 pediatric cancer patients (8 to 16 years old) and both of their parents at 3 months postdiagnosis. Data suggest that more global or characteristic aspects offamily life (e.g., family satisfaction, extent of interaction) may be less important in a child's early response to cancer than are the parents' coping behavior and, to a lesser degree, their subjective distress about the illness. Two patterns of coping behavior for both mothers and fathers (fostering family integration and maintaining self- stability) proved to be the major independent contributors in accounting for the variance in hopelessness scores. In addition, it appears that some of the parental coping behaviors related to a sense of optimism in the child may be different from the behaviors that impact on the parents' own level of sub jective distress. The important role of both mothers and fathers in their children's cancer experience is addressed, and implications for psychosocial intervention and future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-493
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Pediatric Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1985
Externally publishedYes


  • Childhood cancer
  • Family influences
  • Hopelssness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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