The relationship between socio-demographic characteristics, family environment, and caregiver coping in families of children with cancer

J Clin Psychol Med Settings. 2013 Dec;20(4):478-87. doi: 10.1007/s10880-013-9362-3.


The factors that influence caregiver coping mechanism preferences after a child's diagnosis with cancer are not fully understood. This study examines the relationship between caregivers' socio-demographic characteristics and the coping strategies they use to adapt to childhood cancer. Sixty caregivers of pediatric cancer patients completed a socio-demographic questionnaire, the Family Environment Scale, and the COPE inventory. There were no significant differences in family environment by income or education. Caregiver educational attainment was positively associated with use of planning and active coping styles, while income was not associated with caregiver coping style. Mothers were more likely than fathers to use active coping, instrumental support, religious coping, and emotional support. Men with lower education engaged in greater substance use coping and lower planning. The findings show that educational attainment and caregiver gender influence caregiver coping styles following a pediatric cancer diagnosis and suggest that educational attainment rather than financial resources drive the association between SES and coping. Programs that address educational gaps and teach caregivers planning and active coping skills may be beneficial for parents with lower educational attainment, particularly men.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Caregivers / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Educational Status
  • Family Relations*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Religion and Psychology
  • Sex Distribution
  • Social Support
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires