Exploring Stress Levels Experienced by Parents of Children with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

In the United States approximately 3,500 children are diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) each year (Horton & Steuber, 2012). With a considerable amount of families being affected by ALL annually there is a substantial need to understand how this affects the parents of these children. There have been numerous studies in reference to families dealing with childhood cancers. However, few studies have addressed the topic of parenting a child with ALL and the challenges that arise during this difficult time (Long & Marsland, 2011). More importantly of the reports on parenting a child with ALL, only a few explore the experience from the father’s perspective. The purpose of this study is to explore paternal and maternal stress levels on parents who are parenting a child with ALL that is undergoing treatment and to explore possible parental gender differences in coping with the stress of parenting a child with ALL undergoing treatment. This study uses the theoretical framework of Richard Lazarus and Susan Folkman’s (1984) theory of stress, appraisal, and coping to explore the experience of parenting a child with ALL. The research questions explored in this study will be: (1) Is there is a difference in stress levels reported by the mothers and fathers of a child undergoing treatment for ALL? and (2) “To determine if the demographic variables of the child’s age, the child’s gender, time since diagnosis, and parent’s gender explain the different parenting experiences when parenting a child with ALL?