The relation between marital adjustment and sibling emotional adjustment in pediatric cancer
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For children under the age of 15, cancer is the most common cause of death by disease (Heron, Sutton, Xu, Ventura, Strobino, & Guyer, 2010). Pediatric cancer can disrupt family routines (McGrath et al. 2005; Mercer & Ritchie 1997). Siblings of cancer patients may also experience symptoms of emotional distress, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress (Alderfer, 2010; Lahteenmaki, Sjoblom, Korhonen, & Salmi, 2004; Hamama et al., 2010). Gender, age, coping, social functioning, and family functioning play a role in the emotional distress of siblings ((Alderfer et al., 2006; Hamama et al., 2000; Houtzager et al., 2003; Sloper & While, 1996). However, research has yet to look at whether parental marital functioning also plays a role in the emotional adjustment of siblings of pediatric cancer patients. The proposed study will examine the relationship between marital adjustment and sibling emotional adjustment while controlling for time since diagnosis. Additionally, the proposed study will examine whether gender, age, coping, social functioning, and family functioning moderate the relationship between marital adjustment and sibling adjustment. Participants will be mothers of cancer patients, with siblings between ages 4-17. Participants will complete a demographic questionnaire, the Strengths and Difficulties questionnaire, the Response to Stress questionnaire- parent report of child, the Family Assessment Device, and the Dyadic Adjustment Scale. Hierarchical linear modeling will be conducted in order to account for possible dependencies of siblings from the same family. It is expected that marital functioning and time since diagnosis will predict levels of sibling emotional adjustment. Factors, such as age, gender, coping, and social functioning, will be moderators for the relationship between marital functioning and sibling emotional adjustment. Additionally, marital functioning will mediate the relationship between time since diagnosis and sibling adjustment. Significant results may provide further information intervention strategies for siblings of pediatric cancer patients.