Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 1051–1067 | Cite as

Building Life Satisfaction Through Well-Being Dimensions: A Longitudinal Study in Children with a Life-Threatening Illness

  • Covadonga ChavesEmail author
  • Gonzalo Hervas
  • Felipe E. García
  • Carmelo Vazquez
Research Paper


Recent literature suggests that people increase their life satisfaction over time as a result of developing positive psychological resources (e.g. benefit finding). However, this hypothesis has not yet tested in children. Since suffering from illness is usually associated with challenge and growth, we hypothesized that changes in life satisfaction in a sample of ill children would depend on to what extent they developed resources. Children with a life threatening illness (N = 67 at T1 and N = 49 at T2, ages 7–18 years) completed the Student Life Satisfaction Scale, a measure of health-related functioning problems, a measure of positive emotions (PE), the Benefit Finding Scale for Children, and a measure of strengths from the Values in Action Inventory of Character Strengths for Youth. The same measures were assessed 6 months after the first assessment. Using structural equation modeling techniques, results revealed that health-related functioning problems were associated with negative changes in life satisfaction over time. Moreover, increases in benefit finding and character strengths (i.e., love and gratitude) predicted positive changes in LS over time. Finally, PE predicted changes in benefit finding over time through several personal strengths (i.e., vitality and gratitude). The development of positive psychological resources in children experiencing high levels of stress may promote desirable psychological outcomes. Therefore, in order to help clinicians prevent negative outcomes, future research should strive to better understand life satisfaction and its underlying predictors in children experiencing difficult life circumstances.


Childhood cancer Positive affect Satisfaction with life Quality of life Benefit finding Personal strengths 



This study was funded by Fundacion Lafourcade-Ponce. The authors would like to thank Cristina Lafuente for her continuous support and enthusiasm. We are also especially grateful to Cristina Cuadrado, Miriam Gil, Cristina Pozo, Cecilia del Valle and Elena Perez, members of Fundacion Pequeño Deseo, for providing contact with the children and for always being available to help. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the collaborating hospitals, doctors and children who have participated in this study. Thanks to Matthew Abrams and Jessica Carney for his assistance in improving the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Covadonga Chaves
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gonzalo Hervas
    • 1
  • Felipe E. García
    • 2
  • Carmelo Vazquez
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Clinical Psychology, School of PsychologyComplutense UniversityMadridSpain
  2. 2.School of PsychologySanto Tomás UniversityConcepciónChile

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