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Title:"It was part of the water we were moving in, the air we were breathing:" parent and adult-child communication across a mother's breast cancer trajectory
Author(s):Pusateri, Kimberly Brook
Director of Research:Caughlin, John P
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Caughlin, John P
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Knobloch, Leanne K; Huhman, Marian; Hardesty, Jennifer L
Department / Program:Communication
Discipline:Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Communication
Breast Cancer
Normative Approach
Abstract:A cancer diagnosis is a life altering experience that creates uncertainties and dilemmas. These challenges affect both patients and other members of their families. However, the existing literature focuses almost exclusively on how patients and spouses communicate following a cancer diagnosis, which ignores the perspectives and experiences of other family members. Adult children's involvement in a parent's cancer experience is likely complex. In particular, adult children may find it challenging when their preferences for information management are not congruent with what their diagnosed parent divulges. Further, factors characteristic of the adult child life stage, like geographic separation and changing parent-child relationship dynamics, may complicate interaction following a parent’s cancer diagnosis. The current study employed a normative perspective of communication to better understand how adult children negotiate involvement in a parent’s breast cancer experience. In-depth qualitative interviews with thirty adult children provided insight into the specific challenges adult children face, and the strategies used to overcome those challenges, during each stage of a mother's breast cancer trajectory. Adult children reported challenges relating to (a) information management, (b) social support, (c) geographic separation, and (d) changes to the parent-child relationship. Potential dilemmas associated with each challenge complicated adult children’s involvement in their mother's cancer experience. Findings illuminate strategies that adult children consider to be effective in managing dilemmas of interaction in this context. The major implications of this dissertation extend theoretical and practical knowledge of family communication and cancer. In addition, this dissertation highlights the benefit of building a more complete picture of how various family members communicate following a cancer diagnosis.
Issue Date:2016-07-07
Type:Thesis
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/92929
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Kimberly Pusateri
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-11-10
Date Deposited:2016-08


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