Language Use and Post-Traumatic Stress Symptomatology in Parents of Pediatric Cancer Survivors1

Authors

  • Sharon Manne

    Corresponding author
    1. Fox Chase Cancer Center Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
      Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Sharon Manne, Psycho-Oncology Program, Fox Chase Cancer Center, 7701 Burholme Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19111.
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  • 1

    The author would like to thank the pediatric oncologists at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, particularly Paul Meyers, Peter Steinhertz, and Norma Wollner for their assistance in this experiment. I thank Karen Sorgen, Eric Scrimshaw, Patricia Ricketts, Malki Blaustein, and Maura Carroll, who assisted with collection of experiment data; Lawrence Jacobsberg, who conducted SCID interview training; and finally, the parents who participated in this experiment. The author's work was supported by Grants R29 CA 57379 and K04 CA 65727 from the National Cancer Institute.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Sharon Manne, Psycho-Oncology Program, Fox Chase Cancer Center, 7701 Burholme Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19111.

Abstract

The words parents use when disclosing their current thoughts and feelings about their children's cancer were hypothesized to be associated with post-traumatic stress symptomatology among parents of children who had successfully completed treatment. A word-based, computerized text-analysis program was used to analyze writing samples from 82 parents. Parents completed a questionnaire and a structured interview assessing post-traumatic stress symptomatology. Results indicate partial support for the association between language use and post-traumatic stress symptoms. Use of past-tense verbs was associated with fewer traumatic stress symptoms, and use of future-tense verbs was associated with more traumatic stress symptoms. Time since completion of the child's treatment moderated the relationship between use of past- and future tense verbs and post-traumatic stress symptoms. Implications for using computer-based text analyses in the study of psychological processes associated with post-traumatic responses are discussed.

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