Associations of Maternal Macro- and Micro-Level Communication Styles and Child Emotions During Parent-Child Discussions About Children’s Cancer
Previous research indicates that children with pediatric cancer may be at risk for both short-term and long-term emotional difficulties including anxiety and depression. Parent communication may guide a child in successfully coping with stressful experiences related to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, which can ultimately influence the child’s ability to cope and adjust to challenges posed by the illness. The current study aims to identify what aspects of maternal parent communication patterns may heighten or relieve child pediatric cancer patients’ anxiety about cancer. Sixty-two mother-child dyads of families with children diagnosed with cancer were recruited to participate in this two-site study. Mothers and children 10 years of age or older were asked to complete questionnaire packets pertaining to their experience with the illness. All families who completed the packets were then recruited to participate in a video-recorded observation including a communication task that involved a cancer-related discussion. Parent communication techniques and child emotions evident in the conversation were coded. Results indicate that mothers’ linguistic structures of their responses were related to their general communication styles and that these ultimately predicted their child’s mood.