The enhancing connections program: A six-state randomized clinical trial of a cancer parenting program

Frances Marcus Lewis, Patricia A. Brandt, Barbara B. Cochrane, Kristin A. Griffith, Marcia Grant, Joan E. Haase, Arlene D. Houldin, Janice Post-White, Ellen H. Zahlis, Mary Ellen Shands

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose of this study was to test the efficacy of a cancer parenting program for child rearing mothers with breast cancer, the Enhancing Connections Program. Primary goals were to decrease maternal depressed mood and anxiety, improve parenting quality, parenting skills and confidence, and enhance the child's behavioral-emotional adjustment to maternal breast cancer. Method: A total of 176 mothers diagnosed within 6 months with Stage 0 to Stage III breast cancer and their 8- to 12-year-old child were recruited from medical providers in 6 states: Washington, California, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Arizona, and Indiana. After consenting and obtaining baseline measures, study participants were randomized into experimental or control groups. Experimental mothers received 5, 1-hr educational counseling sessions at 2-week intervals; controls received a booklet and phone call on communicating and supporting their child about the mother's cancer. Outcomes were assessed at 2 and 12 months. Results: Compared to controls, at 2 months experimental mothers significantly improved on depressed mood and parenting skills; experimental children improved on behavioral-emotional adjustment: total behavior problems, externalizing problems, and anxiety/depressed mood significantly declined. At 1 year, experimental children remained significantly less depressed than controls on both mother- and child-reported measures. The intervention failed to significantly affect parenting self-efficacy or maternal anxiety. Conclusions: The Enhancing Connections Program benefitted mothers and children in specific areas and warrants refinement and further testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-23
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Breast cancer
  • Child adjustment
  • Clinical trial
  • Parent counseling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The enhancing connections program: A six-state randomized clinical trial of a cancer parenting program'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Lewis, F. M., Brandt, P. A., Cochrane, B. B., Griffith, K. A., Grant, M., Haase, J. E., Houldin, A. D., Post-White, J., Zahlis, E. H., & Shands, M. E. (2015). The enhancing connections program: A six-state randomized clinical trial of a cancer parenting program. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 83(1), 12-23.