View/Download PDF
CROSSMARK LOGO Buy Reprints
PDF

Translate this page into:

Original Article
25 (
1
); 79-83
doi:
10.4103/IJPC.IJPC_128_18

Resilience and its Predictors among the Parents of Children with Cancer: A Descriptive-Correlational Study

Department of Medical-surgical Nursing, Faculty of Nursing, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran
Trauma Research Center and Faculty of Nursing, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran
Behavioral Sciences Research Center, Faculty of Nursing, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran
Department of Psychiatric Nursing, Faculty of Nursing, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran
Department of Psychiatric Nursing, Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran
Address for correspondence: Dr. Hosein Mahmoudi, Trauma Research Center, Faculty of Nursing, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran. E-mail: h.mahmoudi@bmsu.ac.ir
Licence

This is an open access journal, and articles are distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 License, which allows others to remix, tweak, and build upon the work non-commercially, as long as appropriate credit is given and the new creations are licensed under the identical terms.

Disclaimer:
This article was originally published by Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd and was migrated to Scientific Scholar after the change of Publisher; therefore Scientific Scholar has no control over the quality or content of this article.

Abstract

Context:

As a common debilitating illness, cancer is among the leading causes of child mortality in developed and developing countries. Cancer diagnosis for children is considerably stressful for their parents. Resilience is a key factor behind effective coping with cancer-related problems. This study evaluated resilience and its predictors among the parents of children with cancer.

Aim:

This study evaluated resilience and its predictors among the parents of children with cancer.

Settings and Design:

This cross-sectional descriptive-analytical study was conducted in 2017 on 400 parents of children with cancer in Tabriz Children's Hospital, Iran.

Methods:

A demographic questionnaire and the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale were used to collect the data. Parents were conveniently recruited from Tabriz Children's Hospital.

Statistical Analysis:

Data were analyzed using the SPSS for Windows program (v. 16) via descriptive and inferential statistical methods.

Results:

The mean score of parents’ resilience was 66.83 ± 14.28. Fathers obtained significantly higher resilience scores than mothers (P < 0.001). The predictors of parents’ resilience were financial status, parents’ gender, fathers’ employment status, and children's gender.

Conclusion:

The parents of cancer-afflicted children, particularly their mothers, have low resilience and therefore may be at risk for different physical and mental health problems. Health-care providers need to identify at-risk parents and provide them with greater psychological and educational support.

Keywords

Cancer
child
parents
resilience

INTRODUCTION

Cancer is a common debilitating illness and a leading cause of child mortality in developed and developing countries.[1] The global incidence rate of childhood cancer is 140.6 cases per 1000,000 children. The cumulative incidence rate of cancer in 2010–2013 in the northwest of Iran was 95.4 cases per 1000,000 children.[2]

Parents’ primary reaction to the diagnosis of cancer for their children is often associated with trauma and massive shock.[1] Psychological and clinical assessments show rising rates of depression and anxiety among the parents of children with chronic conditions such as cancer.[34] The parents suffer from different psychosocial problems, marital conflicts, financial strains, social isolation, occupational and familial role conflicts, and lack of time for their other children and recreational activities.[5] Moreover, psychosocial dysfunction among these parents can negatively affect the well-being and the welfare of the whole family.[6]

A key factor behind effective coping with cancer-related problems is resilience. In other words, parents need resilience and adaptive skills to effectively cope with their children's cancer and its associated problems.[3] As a personal characteristic, resilience relieves parents’ discomfort,[7] improves quality of life,[8] promotes positive adaptation, moderates the negative effects of stress, and empowers individuals to protect their health.[9] Resilience is also a significant predictor of effective coping among the siblings of children with disability.[10] Resilience promotion among the family members of ill children can improve their psychosocial well-being and life satisfaction (14–16) and reduce disease burden.[11] Contrarily, lack of resilience increases the risk of different physical and mental health problems.[6] Therefore, resilience is considered as a protective factor against different health problems and risks.[11]

Given the role of resilience in personal and familial health, determining its level and contributing factors can help improve individuals’ and families’ resistance to different health problems.[12] However, most studies on resilience in Iran and other countries have been conducted on patients with psychiatric disorders,[131415161718] and thus, there is limited information about resilience among the parents of cancer-afflicted children. To bridge this gap, this study was conducted with the aim of assessing resilience and its predictors among the parents of children with cancer.

METHODS

This was a cross-sectional descriptive-analytical study. The study population comprised all parents of children with cancer in Tabriz, Iran. Cochrane's sample size formula showed that at least 385 parents were needed. The sample size was increased to 400 due to probable withdrawals. Eligibility criteria had a child with cancer, ability to communicate verbally, agreement for participation, no affliction with physical or mental disorders, no history of cancer among the other family members, and no affliction of the child with other cancers or comorbid chronic illnesses. For sampling, we referred to the outpatient and inpatient wards of Tabriz Children's Hospital, Tabriz, Iran, conveniently recruited eligible parents, and asked them to answer study instruments. Sampling and data collection were undertaken in March–November 2017.

Instruments

A demographic questionnaire and the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale were used to collect the data. The demographic questionnaire included items on cancer-afflicted children's age, gender, birth rank, type of malignancy, and duration of affliction as well as parents’ age, gender, educational level, employment status, financial status, and place of residence. The Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale is a standard 25-item measure for resilience. It was developed by Connor and Davidson in the United States in 2003. The total score of the scale can range from 0 to 100, with higher scores standing for greater resilience. Connor and Davidson confirmed its validity and reliability with a Cronbach's alpha of 0.89 and a test–retest correlation coefficient of 0.87.[19] Moreover, its psychometric properties were assessed and confirmed in China,[20] India,[21] Turkey,[22] Africa,[23] and Korea.[24] Mohammadi et al. also translated the scale into Persian and reported acceptable construct validity and internal consistency for it with a Cronbach's alpha of 0.89.[25]

Data analysis

The SPSS for Windows program v. 16 (SPSS Ins., Chicago, USA). was employed for data analysis. The data were presented via the descriptive statistical measures such as absolute and relative frequencies, mean, standard deviation, and median. Moreover, the independent-samples t-test, the one-way analysis of variance, and the linear regression analysis were used to analyze the data at a significance level of <0.05.

RESULTS

In total, 400 parents of 326 cancer-afflicted children were studied. Participants were 263 mothers and 137 fathers. The reason behind the greater number of mothers in the present study was that the companions of children in the study setting were mainly their mothers. Parents ranged in age from 16 to 68. Moreover, 47.4% of fathers and 5.2% of mothers were employed. Around 32.5% of children were the only child of their families. Leukemia was the most common malignancy among children (39.1%). The length of cancer affliction was 17.033 ± 16.48 months, on average. Table 1 summarizes children's and parents’ demographic characteristics.

Table 1: The relationship of resilience with parent’s and children’s demographic characteristics
Characteristics n (%) Resilience P
Parents
Parent’s gender
 Father 137 (3.34) 70.40±12.86 <0.001
 Mother 263 (8.65) 64.78±14.61
Place of residence
 Urban areas 249 (76.4) 67.19±14.53 0.389
 Rural areas 77 (23.6) 65.78±13.54
Mother’s employment status
 Housewives 309 (94.8) 64.35±14.54 0.003
 Employed 17 (5.2) 76.81±10.82
Father’s employment status
 White-collar worker 65 (47.4) 73.6±9.40 <0.001
 Self-employed 55 (40.14) 70.34±11.81
 Farmer 17 (12.4) 58.35±21.38
Mother’s educational level
 Primary 53 (20.1) 64.79±12.50 0.006
 Guidance school 54 (20.53) 65.18±15.05
 High school 29 (11.02) 59.41±13.61
 Diploma 84 (31.93) 63.17±14.97
 University 43 (16.34) 71.58±14.59
Father’s educational level
 Primary 33 (24.08) 67.75±13.92 0.156
 Guidance school 23 (16.78) 69.73±13.90
 High school 12 (8.75) 75.41±10.43
 Diploma 43 (31.38) 69.34±13.51
 University 26 (18.97) 74.84±9.16
Financial status
 Good 30 (9.2) 74.36±9.80 <0.001
 Moderate 190 (58.3) 68.41±13.24
 Poor 106 (32.52) 61.51±15.57
Children
Children’s gender
 Male 190 (58.3) 65.44±14.68 0.023
 Female 136 (41.7) 68.71±13.51
Number of children
 1 106 (32.5) 66.82±14.09 0.990
 >1 220 (67.5) 66.84±14.40
Type of malignancy
 Leukemia 128 (39.1) 66.66±14.9 0.50
 Lymphoma 27 (8.3) 66.53±14.01
 Brain tumor 63 (19.3) 66.68±15.7
 Abdominal tumor 66 (20.2) 65.63±14.82
 Musculoskeletal tumor 24 (7.3) 68.21±11.61
 Ocular tumor 5 (1.5) 63.45±10.14
 Others 13 (4.3) 70.1±12.61
 Guidance school 23 (16.78) 69.73±13.90
 High school 12 (8.75) 75.41±10.43
 Diploma 43 (31.38) 69.34±13.51
 University 26 (18.97) 74.84±9.16
 Children’s age (months) 64.97 (43.90)
 Duration of affliction with cancer (months) 17.03 (16.48)

The mean score of parents’ resilience was 66.83 ± 14.28. The independent-samples t-test showed that the mean score of resilience among fathers was significantly greater than mothers [P = 0.001; Table 1]. Resilience had significant relationships with children's gender (P = 0.023), duration of affliction with cancer (P = 0.003), parents’ gender (P = 0.001), financial status (P < 0.001), mothers’ educational level (P = 0.006), mothers’ employment status (P = 0.003), and fathers’ employment status (P = 0.001). However, it had no significant relationships with the type of malignancy (P = 0.50), place of residence (P = 0.389), fathers’ educational level (P = 0.093), number of children (P = 0.99), and afflicted children's age [P = 0.181; Tables 1 and 2].

Table 2: The relationship of parent’s resilience with their children’s gender
Children’s gender Mean±SD
Mother’s resilience Father’s resilience
Male 63.8±14.69 69.47±13.83
Female 67.06±14.26 72.46±10.98
Statistical test results (df, t, P) 261, 2.21, 0.028 117.05, 0.657, 0.493

SD: Standard deviation

All variables which had significant relationships with resilience were entered into the multiple linear regression analysis. Results revealed that the most significant predictors of resilience were financial status (ß = −0.234; t = −4.731; P < 0.001), parents’ gender (ß = −0.139; t = −2.925; P = 0.004), fathers’ employment status (ß = −0.126; t = −2.533; P = 0.012), and children's gender (ß = −0.118; t = −2.478; P = 0.014). These predictors accounted for 23%, 14%, 13%, and 12%, respectively, of the variance of resilience.

DISCUSSION

Parents’ resilience

The total mean score of parents’ resilience was 66.83 ± 14.28. Moreover, the mean scores of fathers’ and mothers’ resilience were 70.40 ± 12.86 and 64.87 ± 14.61, respectively. A study on the parents of children with autism also showed that the total mean score of parents’ resilience was 55.71 ± 11.82.[26] Moreover, a study on resilience among the mothers of children with cancer reported a resilience mean score of 61.51 ± 13.70.[27] These findings show that the parents of children with cancer have low-to-moderate resilience. However, their resilience is still greater than people who work in stressful environments such as nurses,[28] prehospital technicians,[14] and librarians.[29] These findings demonstrate that experiencing manageable problems related to children's cancer helps promote parents’ resilience over time.[30]

Findings also indicated that the mean score of fathers’ resilience was significantly greater than mothers. Similarly, studies on the parents of children with cancer and autism reported that children's fathers were significantly more resilient than their mothers.[2631] Another study reported that compared with the fathers of children with cancer, their mothers suffered from severer posttraumatic stress disorder.[32] The significant difference between the levels of fathers’ and mothers’ resilience may be due to the fact that women are more sensitive to the effects of stressful life events and perceive higher levels of stress than men in a given situation.[33] A study showed that more than 50% of individual differences respecting resilience are due to genetic factors. Therefore, although males and females are similar to each other respecting the inheritance of resilience, they differ from each other respecting the genes that affect resilience. These differences may contribute to the process of socialization and explain the significantly greater resilience among males than females.[34] However, a study on the parents of deaf and blind children demonstrated no significant difference between fathers and mothers respecting their resilience.[35] Another study on high-school male and female students also reported the same finding. It seems that resilience is more affected by androgenicity than gender, so that both males and females who are androgen have greater resilience and adaptation compared to their nonandrogen counterparts.[36]

Predictors of parents’ resilience

The significant predictors of parents’ resilience were financial status, parents’ gender, fathers’ employment status, and children's gender. Similarly, a study showed that resilience was significantly correlated with parents’ educational level and income.[37] Another study also reported that parents’ gender, educational level, and income level significantly predicted around 11% of the variance of resilience.[38] Good financial status is expected to alleviate stress among the parents of ill children because financial needs usually cause stress.[39] Of course, good financial status is not necessarily associated with greater resilience; rather, parents’ stress and lack of resilience are mainly caused by their inability to effectively use the available resources for their ill children.[40]

Findings also showed fathers’ employment status as a significant predictor of parents’ resilience, so that white-collar fathers had greater resilience than others. Employment status is mainly determined by educational level, and both determine social and financial status, which was identified to be a significant predictor of parents’ resilience in the present and previous studies.[3741] Moreover, financial status, educational level, and job satisfaction protect parents against the negative effects of their children's cancer because, for example, parents can receive professional support from their workplace.[42] On the other hand, cancer diagnosis for a child may require one of the parents or both to quit their job in order to have more time to care for their ill child.[43] Similarly, a study showed that although 35% of mothers had been employed, most of them quitted their job after cancer diagnosis for their children.[44] Such unemployment can negatively affect parents’ financial status and thereby undermine their resilience. However, a study showed that resilience had no significant relationships with social, financial, employment, and educational status among the parents of children with autism.[26] This contradiction can be attributed to the fact that children in that study were afflicted by autism, while children in our study suffered from cancer.

Findings also indicated that children's gender was another predictor of parents’ resilience, so that the parents whose cancer-afflicted children were female were more resilient than male children's parents. An earlier study showed that cancer-afflicted children's gender affected mothers’ anxiety and the relationship of mothers’ emotional ambivalence with her emotional control.[45] Parents in Asian countries spend most of their time with their male children.[46] Moreover, parents have greater knowledge about their male children's illnesses and provide them with greater care and support.[47] These factors may contribute to greater stress and lower resilience among the parents whose cancer-afflicted children were male.

Our findings showed no significant relationship between the place of residence and parents’ resilience. This is in line with the findings of an earlier study which showed no significant difference between the resilience of elderly people who lived in urban and rural areas.

The limitations of the present study included participant selection through convenience sampling, data collection through self-report questionnaires, and greater number of mothers in the study sample.

CONCLUSION

This study indicates that the parents of children with cancer have low resilience and therefore may be at risk for different physical and mental health problems. Moreover, parents’ gender, financial status, father's employment status, and children's gender have significant effects on parents’ resilience. Based on the findings of the present study, health-care providers need to identify at-risk parents and provide them with greater psychological and educational support in order to improve their health and the health of their family members.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

REFERENCES

  1. , . Children with Cancer: The Quality of Life. New Jersy: Routledge; . p. 12.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. , , , . Epidemiology of childhood cancer in Northwest Iran. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2015;16:5459-62.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. , , , , . The resiliency status and emotional distress in mothers of children with cancer. J Clin Psychol. 2015;71:15-26.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. , , , , , . Anxiety and depression: A Cross-sectional survey among parents of children with cancer. Indian J Palliat Care. 2018;24:82-5.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. , , , , , . Promoting resilience among parents and caregivers of children with cancer. J Palliat Med. 2013;16:645-52.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. , , , , , , . Resilience and psychosocial outcomes in parents of children with cancer. Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2014;61:552-7.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. , , , , , , . Psychological distress in parents of children with advanced cancer. JAMA Pediatr. 2013;167:537-43.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. , , , . Resilience and quality of life of mothers of children with intellectual disability. Health Psychol. 2011;1:178-87.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. , , , , . Childhood maltreatment, risk and resilience. Int J Ment Health Addict. 2011;9:343-6.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. , , . Child, parent and family factors as predictors of adjustment for siblings of children with a disability. J Intellect Disabil Res. 2006;50:937-48.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. , . A cross-cultural comparison of resilience in adolescents. J Pediatr Nurs. 2001;16:172-9.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. , . Family Resilience as a Predictor of Better Adjustment among International Adoptees. PhD Dissertation: The University of Texas at Arlingto
    [Google Scholar]
  13. , , , , . The moderating role of resilience in the relationship between early maladaptive schemas and anxiety and depression symptoms among firefighters. Pract Clin Psychol. 2017;5:133-40.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. , , , , . Relationship of psychological hardiness and resilience with the mental health in pre-hospital technicians, Guilan Province. J Holistic Nurs Midwifery. 2016;26:10-8.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. , , . The relationship between family functioning, differentiation of self and resiliency with stress, anxiety and depression in the married women Kermanshah city. Q Couns Psychother Fam. 2013;3:297-329.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. , . The effect of job stress, coping strategies, resilience and mental health in job satisfaction of anesthetized technicians. J Ment Health. 2011;13:20-9.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. , , , , . Resilience and mental disorders in juvenile offenders in central Shiraz Prison. J Kurd Univ Med Sci. 2017;17:43-50.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. , . The effect of work stress, coping strategies, resilience and mental health on job satisfaction among anesthesia technicians. J Fundam Ment Health. 2011;13:20-9.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. , , . Development of a new resilience scale: The Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC) Depress Anxiety. 2003;18:76-82.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. , , , , , , . Factor structure and psychometric properties of the connor-davidson resilience scale among Chinese adolescents. Compr Psychiatry. 2011;52:218-24.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. , , . Psychometric evaluation of the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC) in a sample of Indian students. J Psychol. 2010;1:23-30.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. , . Establishing the psychometric qualities of the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC) using exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis in a trauma survivor sample. Psychiatry Res. 2010;179:350-6.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. , , . Factor structure of the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale in South African adolescents. Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2008;20:23-32.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. , , , , , , . The Korean version of the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale: An extended validation. Stress Health. 2012;28:319-26.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. , , , , , . Investigating the resiliency factors in subjects at risk of drug abuse. Q J Psychol Tabriz Univ. 2006;1:203-24.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. , , , . A comparative study of parenting styles, parental stress and resilience among parents of children having autism spectrum disorder, parents of children having specific learning disorder and parents of children not diagnosedwith any psychiatric disorder. Ann Int Med Dent Res. 2016;2:106-12.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. , , , , . The resiliency status and emotional distress in mothers of children with cancer. J Clin Psychol. 2015;7:25-9.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. , , . Relationship between job stress and resilience with burnout in female nurses. J Kermanshah Univ Med Sci. 2010;14:161-9.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. , , , . Investigating the relationship between resilience and job burnout in librarians of academic libraries. Acad Libr Inf Res. 2017;50:137-53.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. , , , , , , . Parents of children with cancer: At-risk or resilient? J Pediatr Psychol. 2015;40:914-25.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. , , , , , , . Resilience model for parents of children with cancer in mainland China – An exploratory study. Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2017;27:9-16.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. , , . Post traumatic stress disorder in parents of children with cancer in Jordan. Arch Psychiatr Nurs. 2017;31:8-12.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. , , , , , , . Gender-related differences in quality of life domains of persons living with HIV/AIDS in South India in the era prior to greater access to antiretroviral therapy. AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2008;22:999-1005.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. , , , . Psychiatric resilience: Longitudinal twin study. Br J Psychiatry. 2014;205:275-80.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. , , , . To investigate the effect of predicting resiliency and social support in general mental health in parents of deaf and blind children. J Except Educ. 2014;1:5-12.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. , , . The relationship between sex and resilance J of Psychological Studies Faculty of Alzahra University, Tehran. . 2015;11:115-34.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. , . Resilience of parents with a child with autism spectrum disorders and factors for its potential enhancement: Family income and educational level. J Educ Dev Psychol. 2017;7:188-94.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. , , , . Demographic and childhood environmental predictors of resilience in a community sample. J Psychiatry Res. 2009;43:1007-12.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. , , , , . Challenges faced by families of autistic children. Int J Interdiscip Res Innov. 2014;2:64-8.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. , , . Factors associated with stress among parents of children with autism. J Coll Physicians Surg Pak. 2015;25:752-6.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. , , , , , . Resilience factors play an important role in the mental health of parents when children survive acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Acta Paediatr. 2016;105:e30-4.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. , , , , , . Family resiliency in childhood cancer. Fam Relat. 2002;51:103-11.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. , , , . Impact of childhood cancer on parental employment and sources of income: A Canadian pilot study. Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2008;51:93-8.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. , . Gender differences of parental distress in children with cancer. J Adv Nurs. 2002;38:598-606.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. , , , . The relation between emotional ambivalence and emotional control in mothers and anxiety in children with cancer and the modifying role of children's sex. Res Psychol Health. 2009;3:55-64.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. , , . Child gender and parental inputs: No more son preference in Korea? Am Econ Rev. 2015;105:638-43.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. , , , , , , . Gender differences in perception and care-seeking for illness of newborns in rural Uttar Pradesh, India. J Health Popul Nutr. 2009;27:62-71.
    [Google Scholar]
Show Sections