This is a competing renewal application to conduct theoretically-driven research to determine the course and predictors of mental health, social, and physical health outcomes in a cohort of children with cancer and their parents. We have been following a sample of 258 children (ages 5 to 17-years at entry into the study) from near the time of their cancer diagnosis over the first year after their diagnosis with a very high retention rate. By the end of this grant period we will have collected 3 waves of data including observations, interviews and questionnaires and we now propose to collect 2 additional waves of data, including direct observations of parent-child interactions, up to 5 years after diagnosis. Child and their parents completed measures about sources of cancer-related stress, how they cope with cancer, standardized indicators of distress and mental health problems, and they participated in video recorded observations. We propose to extend this work to examine the transition off treatment and into survivorship.
Our aims are: 1) To examine continuity and change in parent-child communication about cancer;2) To identify early predictors of later mental and physical health outcomes for children with cancer and their parents;and 3) To examine reciprocal relationships between parent and child coping, mental and physical health. To meet these aims, we propose to collect 2 additional waves of interview, observational and multi-agent questionnaire data spaced 12 months apart. The project is designed to identify risk and protective factors and processes that can be used to establish a theory-driven model of coping and adaptation to childhood cancer and to identify targets for the future early preventive psychosocial interventions with children with cancer and their parents.

Public Health Relevance

This study will continue to follow a sample of over 250 children diagnosed with cancer and their parents from the time of the child's diagnosis into survivorship over a period 5-6 years. The focus of the study is on the identification of characteristics of parent and child communication and coping that are predictive of later psychological, social, academic, and health outcomes for survivors of childhood cancer and their parents.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Psychosocial Development, Risk and Prevention Study Section (PDRP)
Program Officer
Chou, Wen-Ying
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Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Prussien, Kemar V; Murphy, Lexa K; Gerhardt, Cynthia A et al. (2018) Longitudinal associations among maternal depressive symptoms, child emotional caretaking, and anxious/depressed symptoms in pediatric cancer. J Fam Psychol 32:1087-1096
Monti, Jennifer D; Winning, Adrien; Watson, Kelly H et al. (2017) Maternal and Paternal Influences on Children's Coping with Cancer-Related Stress. J Child Fam Stud 26:2016-2025
Murphy, Lexa K; Murray, Caitlin B; Compas, Bruce E et al. (2017) Topical Review: Integrating Findings on Direct Observation of Family Communication in Studies Comparing Pediatric Chronic Illness and Typically Developing Samples. J Pediatr Psychol 42:85-94
Gerhardt, Cynthia A (2016) Commentary: Dennis D. Drotar Distinguished Research Award: Academic and Personal Reflections on Childhood Cancer Research Across the Illness Spectrum. J Pediatr Psychol 41:1045-1052
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Murphy, Lexa K; Rodriguez, Erin M; Schwartz, Laura et al. (2016) Longitudinal associations among maternal communication and adolescent posttraumatic stress symptoms after cancer diagnosis. Psychooncology 25:779-86
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Compas, Bruce E; Desjardins, Leandra; Vannatta, Kathryn et al. (2014) Children and adolescents coping with cancer: self- and parent reports of coping and anxiety/depression. Health Psychol 33:853-61
Rodriguez, Erin M; Dunn, Madeleine J; Zuckerman, Teddi et al. (2013) Mother-child communication and maternal depressive symptoms in families of children with cancer: integrating macro and micro levels of analysis. J Pediatr Psychol 38:732-43

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