Personal space and coping in terminally and chronically ill children

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Donald K. Routh, Committee Chair


Personal space measures and coping strategies were compared among three cohorts of children and their parents. One group of children was symptomatically infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), one group of children was diagnosed with cancer, and a healthy group of children served as controls. Seven of the children with HIV were noted to indicate that their parents and medical personnel turned their backs to them in the clinic; in addition, they reported perceptions of greater maternal distance from them in comparison to the children with cancer. The children across all groups also reported greater maternal distances in comparison to the mothers' reports. Moreover, the mothers of the terminally ill children reported greater paternal distances from the child. Finally, mothers of HIV positive children also reported greater degrees of self-criticism and wishful thinking as coping strategies in response to their child's illness.


Psychology, Clinical

Link to Full Text