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The mediating effect of positive expectations in the relationship between social support and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms among parents of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

PURPOSE: Parents of children with cancer are exposed to risks of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, but few studies have explored PTSD symptoms of Chinese parents of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Our study aimed to examine the association between social support and PTSD symptoms and to examine the mediating effect of positive expectations in this relationship among parents of children with ALL.

METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted of consecutive parents of children with ALL in the Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University. A total of 177 parents eligible for this study completed questionnaires on PTSD symptoms, perceived social support, optimism and general self-efficacy anonymously. Asymptotic and resampling strategies were used to examine how positive expectations mediated the association between perceived social support and PTSD symptoms.

RESULTS: Mean score of PTSD symptoms was 37.64 ± 14.44; 29.4% of the sample scored 44 and above, 19.8% scored 50 and above. After adjusting for covariates, perceived social support was negatively associated with the total score of PTSD symptoms (β = -0.209, p < 0.01). Positive expectations were found to mediate the relationship between perceived social support and PTSD symptoms, especially for the symptoms of avoidance and hyperarousal.

CONCLUSIONS: Optimism and general self-efficacy fully mediated the association between perceived social support and PTSD symptoms. Therefore, social support and positive expectations should be included in PTSD preventions and treatments targeting Chinese parents of children with ALL.

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