Optimism and life events as predictors of fear appraisals in mothers of children undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation

Katherine N. DuHamel, Christine Rini, Jane Austin, Jamie Ostroff, Susan Parsons, Richard Martini, Sharon Williams, Laura Mee, Sandra Sexson, Gary Winkel, Farid Boulad, William H. Redd, Sharon Manne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Although mothers' fear appraisals about their child's future health and well-being affect their own psychological adjustment to their child's hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), little is known about antecedents of maternal fear appraisals. This longitudinal study investigated several potential antecedents of these fear appraisals: maternal optimism, recent negative life events, lifetime history of traumatic events, and medical characteristics of the child's disease and HSCT course. One hundred-forty mothers were interviewed during their child's hospitalization for HSCT and at 3-and 6-months post-HSCT. Structural equation modeling was used to test a model of hypothesized relations. Consistent with predictions, lower optimism and a greater number of negative life events were independently associated with greater maternal fear appraisals. Contrary to expectations, lifetime history of trauma was not associated with maternal fear appraisals. Mothers' fear appraisals during their child's hospitalization were, in turn, associated with their fear appraisals up to 6 months later. These data identify a subset of mothers who may be particularly in need of an intervention to increase optimistic coping strategies, improve coping with negative life events, and reduce fear appraisals to improve their adjustment following their child's HSCT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)821-833
Number of pages13
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Oncology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


  • Cancer
  • Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
  • Life events
  • Mothers' fear
  • Optimism


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