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Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Department

School Psychology

First Advisor

Amy Scott

First Committee Member

Lynn Beck

Second Committee Member

Rachelle Hackett

Third Committee Member

Bhaskara Jasti

Fourth Committee Member

Linda Webster

Abstract

Experiencing the death of a family member at a young age is a confusing time for many children. Some clinicians have reported that parental death is the most stressful life event for children, and some studies have traced adults' mental health difficulties to unresolved childhood grief (Balk, 1983; Krahnstoever, 2006). Despite the hardships endured after a family member's death, some children manage to endure the pain of loss better than others because they are resilient due to a variety of protective factors (Masten, 2003; Bonanno, 2004). The present study examined the relationships between childhood grief, potential protective factors (social support, physical and academic self-concept, parent-child relationship quality) and adolescent outcomes (depression, social satisfaction, and academic achievement). Longitudinal data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care (SECC) was utilized in the present study. The sample consisted of 1,364 children, including 261 children who experienced the death of at least one family member in third or fifth grade. There were twelve moderation analyses that were used to examine buffering effects in the present study. Findings in the present study did not support the hypotheses that the psychosocial factors examined could be protective factors between experiencing the death of a family member and the adolescent outcomes examined. Results also revealed a significant main effect of social support, parent-child relationship quality, and physical and academic self-concept whereby those with higher levels of these psychosocial factors tend to have lower levels of depression. Having higher physical and academic self-concept was found to be positively associated with academic achievement. Contrary to what might be expected, a main effect of having higher levels of social support, parent-child relationship quality, physical self-concept, and academic self-concept were associated with lower levels of social satisfaction. Although the hypotheses were not supported in the present study, it is still important that the topic was examined and findings from the present study can guide future research in further exploring possible protective factors for children who experienced the death of a family member.

Pages

115

ISBN

9781303533907

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