Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Development and Family Science


Jaipaul Roopnarine


adolescents;coping;parental cancer;psychosocial functioning;stress


As the rates of cancer diagnoses and the age of parenthood simultaneously rise, the impact of cancer on the family as a unit, particularly on adolescent children, becomes an emerging interest. Guided by stress and coping theory and family resiliency theory, this study used mixed-methods to examine the relationships between adolescent’s (a) perceived stress of parental cancer in relation to specific coping strategies, (b) perceived stress of parental cancer and psychosocial functioning, and (c) use of specific coping strategies relative to psychosocial functioning. The study used a sample of 26 primary caregivers completing surveys and six primary caregivers of 11-17-year-olds being interviewed across the United States (mostly White mothers) regarding their child’s experience with parental cancer. Quantitative analyses found perceived stress was significantly associated with total psychosocial functioning concern, attention, and internalizing behaviors. There were also significant associations between dimensions of psychosocial functioning concern with disengagement coping, involuntary engagement coping, and involuntary disengagement coping. Lastly, there were also significant correlations between perceived stress and disengagement coping, involuntary engagement coping, and involuntary disengagement coping. The themes that emerged from the qualitative interviews involved compounding of stressful circumstances, behavioral and mental health concerns, importance of social support for coping, and intentional disclosure of information related to cancer. Findings enhance our understanding of adolescent coping behaviors and psychosocial functioning related to familial-level stressors and also potentially for interventional efforts geared towards reducing stressors and improving mental health outcomes of adolescents living with parental cancer. Keywords: parental cancer, stress, coping, psychosocial functioning, adolescents


Open Access