Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms and Stressful Life Events Predict the Long-term Adjustment of Survivors of Childhood Cancer and Their Mothers

  • Lamia P. Barakat
  • Anne E. Kazak
  • Paul R. Gallagher
  • Kathleen Meeske
  • Margaret Stuber


Objectives: To examine prospectively the impact of posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) in response to childhood cancer and treatment on general adjustment while accounting for the role of other stressful life events and appraisal of life threat and treatment intensity. Methods: As part of a larger study assessing PTSS, 56 childhood cancer survivors, aged 8 to 18, and 65 mothers completed self-report measures of PTSS and appraisal of the intensity and life threat associated with cancer treatment at time 1 and self-report measures of stressful life events and general adjustment at time 2 (approximately 18 months after time 1). Results: For child survivors and their mothers, posttraumatic stress at time 1 significantly predicted general adjustment at time 2, over and above the significant contribution of lifetime stressful events. The life events variable did not function as a mediator in the association of PTSS and general adjustment. Conclusions: Trauma responses to childhood cancer and its treatment have implications for the long-term adaptation of children and their families. Early signs and symptoms of posttraumatic stress and stressful life experiences require early assessment and intervention.

posttraumatic stress childhood cancer survival stressful life events 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lamia P. Barakat
    • 1
  • Anne E. Kazak
    • 2
  • Paul R. Gallagher
    • 3
  • Kathleen Meeske
    • 4
  • Margaret Stuber
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Sociology, and AnthropologyDrexel UniversityPhiladelphia
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Pennsylvania and Children's Hospital of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia
  3. 3.Division of BiostatisticsChildren's Hospital of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia
  4. 4.Children's Hospital of Los AngelesUSA
  5. 5.Neuropsychiatric InstituteUniversity of California at Los AngelesUSA

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