The role of depression and emotion regulation on parenting stress in a sample of mothers with cancer

  • Alessandra BaboreEmail author
  • Sonia M. Bramanti
  • Lucia Lombardi
  • Liborio Stuppia
  • Carmen Trumello
  • Ivana Antonucci
  • Alessandra Cavallo
Original Article



The aim of the current study was to investigate if and to what extent depression and emotional regulation strategies (namely, cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression) might lead to parenting stress in a sample of mothers with cancer and in a sample of healthy mothers.


A sample of mothers with cancer (clinical group; n = 64) and a sample of healthy mothers (control group; n = 80) were administered self-report questionnaires investigating parenting stress (the parenting stress index), depressive symptoms (the Zung depression self-rating scale) and emotion regulation strategies (the emotion regulation questionnaire).


Depressive levels represented the most significant predictor of maternal parenting stress in both groups (p < .001). In addition, cognitive reappraisal (p < .05) but not expressive suppression significantly predicted parenting stress exclusively in the group of mothers with cancer. Finally, cognitive reappraisal was negatively and significantly associated with time since cancer diagnosis to survey.


This study highlights that depressive levels and cognitive reappraisal may play a significant role in parenting stress. The systematic assessment of these variables in women with an oncological diagnosis might help mental health professionals to identify those mothers at risk of developing higher levels of parenting stress ensuring adequate support and preventing negative effects on the parent–child relationship.


Cancer Oncology Parenting stress Depression Emotion regulation Cognitive reappraisal 



parenting stress


Parenting Stress Index Short Form



The authors thank Dr. Di Silvestre of the Santo Spirito Hospital (Pescara, Italy), Dr. Caloro of the Antonio Perrino Hospital (Brindisi, Italy) and Dr. Carapezza of the Garibaldi-Nesima Hospital (Catania, Italy) and all the mothers who agreed to participate to the study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological, Health and Territory Sciences, School of Medicine and Health SciencesUniversity «G. d’Annunzio»ChietiItaly

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