Effects of psychological distress on quality of life of adult daughters and their mothers with cancer

Youngmee Kim, David K. Wellisch, Rachel L. Spillers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Introduction: As the population continues to age, adult daughters are more likely to be involved in caregiving. Given the fact that sharing emotional experiences is common in female relationships, (dis)similarity between mothers with cancer and their adult caregiving daughters is expected. However, the extent to which the (dis)similarity in psychological distress influences the quality of life of each person remains unknown. Method: This study aims at addressing this concern, using a total of 98 mother-daughter dyads participating in the American Cancer Society's Study of Cancer Survivors-I and Quality of Life Survey for Caregivers. Results: Using the Actor Partner Interdependence Model, the results showed that although each person's psychological distress is the strongest predictor of their own quality of life, a mother's distress also plays a significant role in the daughter's quality of life. Specifically, when mothers experienced greater levels of psychological distress, the daughters reported better mental health but poorer physical health. Conclusions: Our findings on the disproportionately strong association between psychological distress of mothers with cancer and their adult caregiving daughters' quality of life suggest that caregiving daughters may benefit from programs designed to assist them to cope better with their mothers' psychological distress when both are living with cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1129-1136
Number of pages8
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult daughters
  • Caregivers
  • Psychological distress
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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