Parental Grief when a child is diagnoised with a life-threatening chronic-illness: The impact of gender, perceptions and coping strategies.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The grief experienced by mothers and fathers when their child is diagnosed with a life threatening chronic-illness was investigated in order to validate the presence of grief in these parents and look at the factors that influence it. More specifically, I was interested in whether the grief experience differed for mothers and fathers and the impact that perceptions and coping have on both these gender differences in grief and on grief in general. The particular population investigated in this study were parents of children with Cystic Fibrosis. Participants were recruited through questionnaires randomly sent out by the National Cystic Fibrosis Association. In all, 37 mothers and 15 fathers took part. Results not only confirmed presence of grief in these parents but also indicated that this grief differs for mothers and fathers, with mothers reporting significantly higher levels of physical distress. In line with the literature no gender differences were found in regards to perception of impact parents felt their child's chronic-illness had had on their lives. Contrary to what was expected, however, no differences were found amongst the coping strategies used by mothers and fathers. In regards to the question of which factors have the greatest impact on the grief experienced by mothers and fathers combined, the coping strategy of self-blame was found to be the most important, followed closely by negative perceptions. The significance of these findings and their implications for parents and the people who work with them was discussed.