Having a child with cancer is one of the most stressful situations families can experience. This study sheds light on mothers’ stress and coping with pediatric cancer in the Arab world, with a specific focus on Kuwait. The first aim of this study was to examine mothers’ stress and how it related to the quality of mother-child relationship, and subsequently the child’s behavioral problems. The second aim was to explore mothers’ main stressors, resources and services that help or could help with alleviating the stress experienced from having a child with cancer. A total of 102 mothers living in Kuwait whose children were receiving treatment at a specialized pediatric hospital in Kuwait participated in the study. Mothers completed a questionnaire that included questions related to stress and coping, mother-child relationship and child behavioral difficulties. Using a hierarchal multiple regression, results showed that an increased level of stress was associated with higher levels conflict of mother-child relationship, while lower levels of stress was related to higher level of closeness between them. Additionally, an increased level closeness and a decreased level of conflict in the mother-child relationship were related to lower levels of child behavioral problems, while higher levels of problem-focused and avoidant-focused coping were related to higher levels child behavioral difficulties. Moreover, findings from a thematic analysis of mothers’ answers to questions related to stress and coping showed that from the main stressors are challenges the illness has on their emotional, physical, psychological and mental wellbeing. However, feeling supported by family, friends and the community helped in reducing their levels of stress. Results showed that support provided by the community to mothers and their children is needed, such as providing cancer-friendly spaces and a supportive educational system. Additionally, mothers were eager to gain knowledge and skills to help them surpass such a stressful period in their lives. Recommendations for interventions are provided.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences


Psychology Department

Degree Name

MA in Community Psychology

Graduation Date

Summer 6-15-2023

Submission Date


First Advisor

Mona Amer

Committee Member 1

Heba Kotb

Committee Member 2

Sarah Dababnah


116 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item