Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Dustin D. Berna

Second Advisor

Judith McKay

Third Advisor

Tommie Boyd

Abstract

This study aimed to establish a connection, if any, between perceptions of information disclosure about medical treatment and decisional conflict in bereaved parents of children with cancer. Decisional regret was an important theme in this exploration because decisional conflict strongly aligns with the propensity to mentally redo past events, thereby forming counterfactual alternatives to reality. People generate counterfactuals to hypothesize a more favorable outcome subsequent to a negative event or the death of a child as applicable to this study. A secondary objective was to investigate the potential influence of counterfactual processing and regret on the construct of self-acceptance: a phenomenon researchers have rarely studied in the population of interest.

Study participants included parents who lost a child to cancer in the United States after participating in medical treatment prescribed by a licensed oncologist. Cluster and convenience sampling were employed to recruit 92 participants. Quantitative methods were used in obtaining data samples through validated instruments for each independent and dependent variable. The responses collected indicate that a perceived lack of information disclosure about treatment risks and efficacy, yield a positive influence on decisional conflict after the death of a child. Similarly, decisional conflict positively correlates with decisional regret, while the latter negatively correlates with self acceptance in the bereavement process. The research implications call for additional studies that further isolate factors that contribute to decisional conflict. This study advocates for decision making tools and collaborative processes that ensure parents are well informed and involved in making medical decisions from diagnosis through palliative care, if a cure is not possible.

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