Positive Youth Development in the Midst of Coping with Parental Cancer: Implications for Youth Development Research and Practice


  • Kerri L. Ashurst University of Kentucky
  • Jason D. Hans University of Kentucky
  • Donna R. Smith University of Kentucky
  • Kenneth R. Jones University of Kentucky




Four implications for youth development research and practice resulted from a qualitative study on psychosocial developmental experiences of late adolescents coping with parental cancer during late adolescence. The study employed a developmental systems framework and grounded theory methods. Results suggest three primary psychosocial developmental influences, including multilevel influences (individual, familial, and extrafamilial risk and protective factors), coping strategies to maintain control, and responses to uncertainty and anticipatory grief. The particular combination of risk and protective factors present in participants’ lives resulted in positive outcomes; resilience was the central unifying concept that characterized the primary psychosocial developmental outcomes of each participant. This finding illuminates the need to expand our focus in youth development research and practice to include positive developmental outcomes that can result from coping with life crises during adolescence.






Feature Articles