Parental cognitive appraisals and coping behaviours following child's epilepsy diagnosis: a qualitative study

Sylvia Nguyen*, Mark Pertini, Lisa Kettler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Management of childhood epilepsy places significant demands and increased stress on the family unit. How parents adjust to this illness-related stress is believed to be shaped by their cognitive appraisals of the situation and the coping behaviours that are employed (Wallander & Varni, 1992). We investigated the cognitive and behavioural strategies that regulated psychological symptomatology in mothers following an epilepsy diagnosis of their child. Twenty-one mothers participated in this qualitative study. Interview data was analyzed using theory-driven thematic analysis. The analysis revealed common effective cognitive appraisals that include maintaining a positive outlook, re-structuring expectations and finding meaning from their experiences. Problem-solving, emotional venting, time to self and speaking with parents in similar situations were behaviours that buffered against carer strain. The coping strategies identified in this study can be seen as sources of resilience and therefore provide a guide for improving parent outcomes in the context of pediatric illness. Implications for clinical services are discussed in this paper.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-38
Number of pages19
JournalClinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Child illness
  • coping
  • epilepsy
  • maternal adjustment
  • stress-processing

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