Objectives: Aims were to (1) determine whether the associations between parent psychological functioning and adjustment outcomes of childhood cancer survivors (CCS) were mediated by the parent-child relationship and (2) examine possible differences in pathways for CCS and healthy peers.
Method: The study included CCS (n = 206), healthy peers (n = 132), and their primary caregivers. Youth (8-21 years) reported on the quality of the parent-child relationship and on their positive and negative adjustment outcomes. Parents reported on their own distress, posttraumatic growth, quality of the parent-child relationship, and their child's positive and negative adjustment outcomes. Two mediation models were tested, first examining youth-reported adjustment as the outcome and second examining parent-reported youth adjustment. Differences between model path coefficients of CCS and healthy peers were assessed by multigroup analyses.
Results: In the youth-reported model, the parent-child relationship mediated the relation between parental distress and adjustment, with more care leading to better youth-reported adjustment outcomes and more overprotection leading to poorer adjustment outcomes. In the parent-reported model, relational frustration and attachment mediated the link between parental distress/growth and parent-reported youth adjustment, with more relational frustration and less attachment relating to poorer youth adjustment outcomes. Multigroup analyses revealed no differences in model path coefficients between CCS and healthy peers.
Conclusions: Parental distress and the parent-child relationship likely play an important role in both youth- and parent-reported adjustment, and associations among these constructs do not differ between CCS and healthy peers. Families with less optimal parental functioning may benefit from interventions improving the quality of parent-child interactions.