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Resilience in Adolescents with Cancer: Association of Coping with Positive and Negative Affect

Murphy, Lexa K. MS*; Bettis, Alexandra H. MS*; Gruhn, Meredith A. MS*; Gerhardt, Cynthia A. PhD; Vannatta, Kathryn PhD; Compas, Bruce E. PhD*

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: October 2017 - Volume 38 - Issue 8 - p 646–653
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000484
Original Articles

Objective: To examine the prospective association between adolescents' coping with cancer-related stress and observed positive and negative affect during a mother-adolescent interaction task involving discussion of cancer-related stressors.

Methods: Adolescents (age 10–15 years) self-reported about their coping and affect approximately 2 months after cancer diagnosis. Approximately 3 months later, adolescents and mothers were video recorded having a discussion about cancer, and adolescents were coded for expression of positive affect (positive mood) and negative affect (sadness and anxiety).

Results: Adolescents' use of secondary control coping (i.e., acceptance, cognitive reappraisal, and distraction) in response to cancer-related stress predicted higher levels of observed positive affect, but not negative affect, over time.

Conclusion: Findings provide support for the importance of coping in the regulation of positive emotions. The potential role of coping in preventive interventions to enhance resilience in adolescents facing cancer-related stress is highlighted.

*Department of Psychology and Human Development, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN;

Department of Pediatrics, The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.

Address for reprints: Lexa K. Murphy, MS, Department of Psychology and Human Development, Vanderbilt University, Peabody 552, 230 Appleton Place, Nashville, TN 37203; e-mail: alexandra.murphy@vanderbilt.edu.

This work was supported by a grant from the National Cancer Institute (R01CA118332), a gift from Patricia and Rodes Hart, and intramural funding from The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Received October , 2016

Accepted June , 2017

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