Award Date

8-1-2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Committee Member

Tara G. McManus

Second Committee Member

David Henry

Third Committee Member

Erin Sahlstein

Fourth Committee Member

Jason Holland

Number of Pages

118

Abstract

This study analyzed how people perceived parents should communicate with their child regarding pediatric cancer treatments. When dealing with pediatric cancer, it is vital that parents and their child communicate about the illness in order to effectively cope with the cancer. Using Uncertainty Management Theory, appraisals, inferences, and illusions, are examined in this study to discover how much affect-management and buffering would be used to manage the illness. Under UMT, the coping mechanisms of affect-management (i.e., religious coping and behavioral disengagement), and buffering (avoidance and child distraction) depend upon how individuals appraise the uncertain situation (positive vs. negative), the inferences they have about it (positive vs. negative vs. low), and their overall illusions regarding the uncertainty (positive vs. no illusions). To test the extent to which affect-management and buffering were used, an experimental design using 12 hypothetical scenarios was conducted via an on-line questionnaire. About 312 participants participated in this study. Religious coping was not explained by the independent variables. The three way interaction of appraisal, inference, and illusions explained participants' use of behavioral disengagement. The two-way interaction of appraisal and inferences, as well as the two-way interaction of inferences and illusions partially explained participants' use of child distraction. Results provided partial support for Mishel's UMT model and offer interesting directions for future research examining information regulation and coping in uncertainty stemming from a child's illness.

Keywords

Adjustment (Psychology); Affect (Psychology); Cancer in children; Cancer in children – Psychological aspects; Health; Interpersonal communication; Parent and child; Pediatric cancer

Disciplines

Communication | Family, Life Course, and Society | Health Communication | Interpersonal and Small Group Communication | Oncology

Language

English