Adjustment of children facing the death of a parent due to cancer

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1996 Apr;35(4):442-50. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199604000-00010.


Objective: To compare predeath and postdeath levels of depression and anxiety reported by a sample of children who lost a parent to cancer ("study children") with the levels reported by children in a community sample who did not experience such a loss.

Method: T scores for depressive symptomatology (Children's Depression Inventory) and state and trait anxiety (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory) were compared. Both samples were weighted to control for multiple participants from the same family. Weights for children in the community sample were further adjusted to match the distribution of the two samples with regard to gender, age, and number of children in the household. Comparisons were made using t tests and chi 2 tests.

Results: Whereas study children reported significantly higher levels of depression and anxiety in the predeath period, levels of symptomatology reported for both measures postdeath were similar in both samples.

Discussion: The data suggest that while many children experiencing the loss of a parent to cancer report elevated levels of depression and anxiety predeath, by 7 to 12 months postdeath their reports of depression and anxiety are comparable with those of similarly situated children in the community who did not experience such a loss.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Affective Symptoms / epidemiology*
  • Bereavement*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • New York / epidemiology