The aim of the present study was to find possible links between factors influencing the level of distress experienced by children with cancer. The first objective was to explore the relationship between childrenï¿½s distress and their parentsï¿½ maladaptive behaviors. Using the Common Sense Model of Illness as a theoretical background we measured the childï¿½s distress level, the parentsï¿½ perception of illness, and parental maladaptive behavior. The second objective was to explore potential causal relations between these three variables. The study is based on previous research demonstrating that negative emotional states of the children may be modulated, not by the illness itself, but by observing and empathizing with the parent. The parents who participated in our study completed the translated and adapted version of the ï¿½Cancer Behavior Inventoryï¿½ and the Illness Perception Questionnaire. Children were administered the adapted version of the ï¿½Emotional Distress Profileï¿½) in order to identify existing signs of distress. Results show that there is a strong correlation between the parentsï¿½ perceived severity of cancer and the levels of maladaptive behaviors exhibited by the parents. Secondly, we discovered that parents' perception of the illness and their maladaptive behavior suppress each other's effects on children's distress. The present study would help in developing and planning intervention programs and specific strategies to aid diminish the distress of the children, as well as change the maladaptive illness perceptions and behaviors of parents with children affected by cancer.
KEYWORDS: illness perception, maladaptive behaviors, child distress, psychooncology, Romanian population.