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Maternal coping strategies in response to a child’s chronic and oncological disease: a cross-cultural study in Italy and Portugal

Author(s): Giovanna Perricone | Marina Prista Guerra | Orlanda Cruz | Concetta Polizzi | Lìgia Lima | Maria Regina Morales | Marina Serra de Lemos | Valentina Fontana

Journal: Pediatric Reports
ISSN 2036-749X

Volume: 5;
Issue: 2;
Start page: e11;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: maternal coping | chronic disease | oncological disease | emotional distress

A child’s oncological or chronic disease is a stressful situation for parents. This stress may make it difficult for appropriate management strategies aimed at promoting the child’s well-being and helping him or her cope with a disease to be adopted. In particular, this study focuses on the possible connections between the variable national cultural influences and the parental strategies used to cope with a child’s severe disease by comparing the experiences of Italian and Portuguese mothers. The study investigates differences and cross-cultural elements among the coping strategies used by Italian and Portuguese mothers of children with oncological or chronic disease. Two groups of mothers took part: 59 Italian mothers (average age 37.7 years; SD=4.5) and 36 Portuguese mothers (average age 39.3 years; SD=4.6). The tool used was the Italian and the Portuguese versions of the COPE inventory that measures five coping strategies: Social Support, Avoidance Coping, Positive Aptitude, Religious Faith and Humor, Active Coping. There were statistically significant differences between Portuguese and Italian mothers regarding Social Support (F(3, 94)=6.32, P=0.014, η2=0.065), Religious Faith and Humor (F(3, 94)=20.06, P=0.001, η2=0.18, higher values for Portuguese mothers) and Avoidance Coping (F(3, 94)=3.30, P=0.06, η2=0.035, higher values for Italian mothers). Regarding child’s disease, the only statistically significant difference was in Religious Faith and Humor (F(3, 94)=7.49, P=0.007, η2=0.076, higher values for mothers of children with chronic disease). The findings of specific cultural transversalities provide the basis for reflection on important factors emerging on the relationship between physicians and parents. In fact, mothers’ coping abilities may allow health workers involved in a child’s care not only to understand how parents face a distressful event, but also to provide them with professional support.
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