Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 1482–1491 | Cite as

Family Coping During Hospitalization of Children with Chronic Illnesses

  • Laura Nabors
  • Jodi Finchum Cunningham
  • Myia Lang
  • Kelsi Wood
  • Shawna Southwick
  • Cathleen Odar Stough
Original Paper


Information about family coping when a child with a chronic illness is hospitalized for procedures related to his or her illness is needed. The current research presents the results of two pilot studies designed to assess family resilience and coping, during a hospitalization for medical procedures for a child with a chronic condition. Sixty-one parents participated in the first study and reported on their child’s hospital experiences and completed a survey designed to assess family coping. Twelve mothers and one grandmother completed interviews examining their perceptions of their coping, siblings’ coping, and coping of the child with an illness for study two. Results of Study 1 indicated parents’ perceived the family as resilient. Cognitive strategies were used to see the hospital stay as positive for the child or to accept what had to occur as having the possibility of improving the child’s life. Some of the mothers mentioned financial stress as being difficult for the family. Results of Study 2 also supported resilient functioning for mothers, siblings, and children with illnesses. Mothers reported they stayed strong for their child. Siblings could serve as protectors, helpers, and companions and were described as adapting well. Children with illnesses used distraction (e.g., play, art, music) to facilitate their coping. Findings of this study indicated parents perceived the family as coping well and supporting the child with an illness. Future research will need to assess perceptions of siblings and fathers and assess family members’ perspectives at different times over the course of children’s illnesses.


Author Contributions

L.N. designed and executed the study, assisted with data analyses, and wrote the paper. J.F.C. collaborated with study analyses and wrote the paper. M.L. collaborated with study analyses and wrote part of the results. K.W. collaborated with study analyses and wrote part of the results. S.S. assisted with study design and execution. C.O.S. collaborated with the writing and editing of the final manuscript.


This research was unfunded.

Compliance with ethical standards

The Institutional Review Board at the University of Cincinnati approved these studies.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical Approval

Research involving human participants -- all procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consenting processes were used for both studies.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Nabors
    • 1
  • Jodi Finchum Cunningham
    • 1
  • Myia Lang
    • 1
  • Kelsi Wood
    • 1
  • Shawna Southwick
    • 1
  • Cathleen Odar Stough
    • 2
  1. 1.Health Promotion and Education Program, School of Human Services, College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human ServicesUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA
  2. 2.Psychology Department, College of Arts and SciencesUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA

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