Journal of Pediatric Psychology, Vol. 26, No. 4, 2001, pp. 225-235
© 2001 Society of Pediatric Psychology
Psychological Adaptation and Social Support of Parents of Pediatric
Cancer Patients: A Prospective Longitudinal Study
Josette E. H. M. Hoekstra-Weebers, PhD, Jan P. C. Jaspers, PhD, Willem
A. Kamps, PhD and Ed C. Klip, PhD
University Hospital Groningen, The Netherlands
All correspondence should be sent to Josette Hoekstra-Weebers,
Department of Medical Psychology, University Hospital, Hanzeplein 1,
P.O. Box 30.001, 9700 RB Groningen, The Netherlands. E-mail:
Objective: To investigate levels of support and the concurrent and
prospective effects of support on the psychological functioning of
parents of children with cancer in a prospective longitudinal study.
Methods: Parents' (n = 128) self-perceived level of psychological
distress, quantity of support, and dissatisfaction with support were
assessed, at diagnosis, at 6, and at 12 months.
Results: Parents received most support at diagnosis. Self-perceived
quantity decreased with time, but parents indicated they remained
equally satisfied. Support significantly predicted concurrent and
prospective distress of fathers, but not of mothers. Dissatisfaction
with support and negative interactions were consistent risk factors for
fathers. Mothers who adjusted well psychologically received more
support and were less dissatisfied than mothers who remained clinically
distressed. Nevertheless, no persisting effect of support was found.
Conclusions: Findings illustrate that social support varies with the
stress situation and with gender. Identification of vulnerable parents
at diagnosis on the basis of their perception of received quantity of
and dissatisfaction with support seems difficult. Intervention efforts
aimed at mobilization of needed support may be efficacious.