Health Locus of Control in Parents of Children with Leukaemia
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Introduction: Health locus of control is defined as the set of beliefs a person has about his or her personal influence on health. There are no specific studies on Parental Health Locus of Control in the context of children with cancer. Basing on the previous studies, we expect parents to have higher scores both in the Internal Locus of Control and in the External Locus of Control (such as health professionals or God). In particular, we wanted to identify possible factors that could increase the parental beliefs belonging to Internal Locus of Control. Method: Participants: Parents of 104 leukemic children post 1 month from the diagnosis were recruited at the Haematology-Oncologic Clinic of the Department of Child and Woman Health, University of Padua. All parents were Caucasian with a mean age of 37.28 years (SD = 5.89), mostly mothers (87.5%) and with a mean years of schooling of 12.16 (SD = 3.82). Parents’ incomes were average (55.3%), high (23.3%) and low (21.4%) for Italian norms, but above poverty. Children’s mean age was 5.94 years (SD = 4.12, range = 1 year-17 years), 50 females and 54 males. Procedure: The parents were contacted by a clinical psychologist during the first hospitalization of their children, in the second week after the diagnosis. Project aims were explained, informed consent was asked for and the Ladder of Life questionnaire (CCSS) was filled in (T1). The PHLOC (DeVellis et al., 1993) was compiled post 1 month from the diagnosis (T2). Results: Current life perception was really low (Mean = 4.33), even if there was a big standard deviation (SD = 2.31) that underlined the variability of parent’s emotive state. Descriptive statistics on the several beliefs of parental locus of control on child’s illness showed the Parental influence as the most used (Mean = 4.35; SD = 0.79). Hierarchical regression analysis model (R2 = 0.18; F4 = 5.41p = 0.001) identified parental current life perception as a significantly (ß = 0.40; p = 0.0001) predictor on Parental influence. Another regression analysis model (R2 = 0.24; F = 3.14; p = 0.03) showed that Child’s Age (β = 0.36; p = 0.002) and parental current life perception (β = 0.32; p = 0.006) impacted upon Child’s influence on the illness. An ANOVA showed that perceived economic condition impacted significantly on the Media influence (F2 = 5.15; p = 0.007) with the parents belonging to the average condition that had higher scores in this subscale (Mean=2.91; DS = 1.29), than those in the high condition (2.05; DS = 0.97). Conclusion: Parental internal locus of control is the most present belief. Parent’s current life perception tested in the second week after the diagnosis communication is the best predictor of Parental influence post one month. The current life perception just at the beginning of child’s treatment gives a measure to identify parents more in difficulty in their parental role and self-esteem to care the child during the illness. Parents that declared an average economic condition believed mostly in Media influence on their child’s health.