Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Adult Health Nursing

First Advisor

Dr. Rita H. Pickler


The diagnosis of cancer in a child is one of the most significant stressors a parent can experience, and research in the area of stress-related effects of illness on parents has emerged in many areas. The majority of studies have focused on the potential or actual negative impact on parents during and after treatment of their child's illness. However, studies that initially set out to explore the difficulties associated with coping with childhood cancer found that parents often reported positive aspects about the experience. There is now increasing interest and support for the study of "positive-health" factors that contribute to protective variables influencing the health and well being of parents, such as benefit finding. The present study aimed to illuminate the process of benefit finding in parents of children with cancer and to develop a theoretical model of this process based on the findings.This grounded theory study resulted in a conceptual model that organized and depicted the constructs and structures related to the process of benefit finding. Through constant comparative analysis, the Basic Psychosocial Problem was identified as being overwhelmed with fear. The parents identified intervening conditions that helped move them from feeling overwhelmed to feeling that they could manage the fear. Many parents identified a specific event, an "epiphenomenon" that created a turning point for them. This event, along with the intervening conditions, moved the parent from being overwhelmed to managing/transforming the fear, which was the Basic Psychosocial Process. The strategies that the parents identified as helping to manage the fear are being in the present, being strong, having faith/maintaining hope, and making meaning out of the event, of which benefit finding was the major component. This entire process occurred within the context of being a parent, as this awareness colored the entire experience. Benefit finding emerged as both a strategy and an outcome within this process and encompassed a growth in character, strengthening of relationships, and a gain in perspective. The theoretical model and substantive theory that emerged during the course of this study provide a way to understand this process in parents of children with cancer.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Nursing Commons