Direct observation of mother-child communication in pediatric cancer: assessment of verbal and non-verbal behavior and emotion.

Dunn MJ, Rodriguez EM, Miller KS, Gerhardt CA, Vannatta K, Saylor M, Scheule CM, Compas BE
J Pediatr Psychol. 2011 36 (5): 565-75

PMID: 20634206 · PMCID: PMC3167686 · DOI:10.1093/jpepsy/jsq062

OBJECTIVE - To examine the acceptability and feasibility of coding observed verbal and nonverbal behavioral and emotional components of mother-child communication among families of children with cancer.

METHODS - Mother-child dyads (N=33, children ages 5-17 years) were asked to engage in a videotaped 15-min conversation about the child's cancer. Coding was done using the Iowa Family Interaction Rating Scale (IFIRS).

RESULTS - Acceptability and feasibility of direct observation in this population were partially supported: 58% consented and 81% of those (47% of all eligible dyads) completed the task; trained raters achieved 78% agreement in ratings across codes. The construct validity of the IFIRS was demonstrated by expected associations within and between positive and negative behavioral/emotional code ratings and between mothers' and children's corresponding code ratings.

CONCLUSIONS - Direct observation of mother-child communication about childhood cancer has the potential to be an acceptable and feasible method of assessing verbal and nonverbal behavior and emotion in this population.

MeSH Terms (13)

Adaptation, Psychological Adolescent Child Child, Preschool Emotions Female Humans Male Mother-Child Relations Neoplasms Nonverbal Communication Social Adjustment Verbal Behavior

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