Child Perceptions of Parental Care and Overprotection in Children with Cancer and Healthy Children



The primary aims of this study were to: (a) examine child perceptions of overprotection; and (b) explore how these perceptions relate to child health and adjustment. Children with a prior diagnosis of cancer (n = 205) and children without a history of serious illness (n = 76) reported on parental overprotective and caring behaviors. Children with cancer were recruited from one of four strata based on the elapsed time since their cancer diagnosis (1–6 months; 6–24 months; 2–5 years; >5 years) Children also reported on symptoms of depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress. Children with cancer did not differ from healthy children in their perceptions of parental care or overprotection. Child distress was more strongly related to perceptions of care and overprotection than child’s health status. Children with cancer do not report their parents approach to care and protection differently than children without a cancer history. These findings mirror prior research examining parental perceptions of overprotection and suggest that, despite the challenges of parenting a child with serious illness, parental protection is not significantly altered.


Pediatric cancer Parenting Overprotection Depression Anxiety Posttraumatic stress 



This study was funded in part, by a Grant from the National Institutes of Health, R01 CA136782, and by the American Lebanese-Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC).

Conflict of Interest

Rachel Tillery, Alanna Long, Sean Phipps declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologySt. Jude Children’s Research HospitalMemphisUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MemphisMemphisUSA

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