Better Understanding How Couples Cope with a Child’s Life-Threatening Illness
The Better Understanding Couples project is an extension of the CIHR-funded study entitled Caregiving Parents of Children With Life-Limiting Illness: Beyond Stress and Coping to Growth. The Couples project was also supported by a TRAC-PG Innovation in Children's Palliative Care Research Grant.
The primary aim of this research addresses the question “How do couples cope together and even grow together in the face of the stressful circumstances of caring for a child with a life-threatening illness?” Couples who participated in a study examining coping and growth in individual parents caring for a child with a life-limiting illness (see “Caregiving Parents of Children with Life-Limiting Illnesses: Beyond Stress and Coping to Growth”), and who indicated that they would be willing to participate in follow-up research, were approached to take part in the couples study.
The purpose of this research is to analyze couples’ data dyadically to gain insight into how relationship factors influence personal growth. The study is longitudinal in that couples who agreed to participate were asked to complete questionnaires a second time. Questionnaires completed as part of the larger Parent Caregiver Study served as Time One. Parent couples who had agreed to participate in follow-up research were asked to complete the questionnaires at Time Two, six to nine months after Time One and asked if there were willing to be interviewed as a couple about the caregiving experiences.
Thirteen couples from across Canada took part in face-to-face semi-structured interviews. Using quantitative and qualitative methodologies, this research seeks to gain a clear understanding of marital/couple factors that enhance or diminish personal growth in parents who are actively caring for children with life-threatening illnesses.
While analysis data is ongoing, a number of presentations at national and international conferences have taken place on findings related to personal growth and spirituality in couples caring for a child with a life-threatening illness. Presentations include:
Kennedy, K., Cadell, S., & Steele, R. (October 2010). We are capable of a lot more than we thought: Personal growth in couples caring for a child with a life-threatening illness. Accepted as proffered paper at the 18th International Congress on Palliative Care Paediatric Seminar: State of the Art in Palliative Care Research, Montreal, QC.
Kennedy, K. & Cadell, S. (June 2010). Spirituality and growth in couples caring for a child with a life-limiting illness. Accepted as a research presentation at the International Conference on Spirituality and Social Work - Spirituality and Scarcity: The Role of Spirituality in Practice and Research in Scarce Times, Calgary, AB
Kennedy, K. (October 2009).Personal growth in couples caring for a child with a life-threatening illness. Poster presentation at Canadian Hospice and Palliative Care Conference, Winnipeg, MB.
Kennedy, K., Cadell, S., Steele, R. (October 2009). Better understanding how couples cope with caring for a child with a life-limiting illness. Poster and oral presentation at the TRAC-PG Inaugural Paediatric Palliative Care Research Symposium, Toronto, ON
Kennedy, K. (2009). Personal growth in couples caring for a child with a life-threatening illness. Unpublished Master’s Thesis, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, ON