This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The relationship between emotional intelligence and psychological adjustment in children with cancer




Haffey, Kerry

Type of Degree



Counseling Psychology
Counselor Education
School Psychology


Limited research has been conducted to explore the relationship between physical health, emotional intelligence, and psychological adjustment in children. An important aim for research focusing on chronically ill children should include the identification factors that will aid in the acknowledgment of ill children who may need more support. The early identification of children with emotional intelligence levels of concern may possibly allow for appropriate interventions before coping and psychological adjustment is affected deleteriously. This study explored the relationship between emotional intelligence and psychological adjustment in children with cancer. Factors such as age, gender, and stage of illness were also considered. A total of 47 children and their parents participated in the study; children varied in diagnoses and stage of illness. Ages ranged from 3 to 18. Children and their parents completed the Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment (Youth Self Report and Child Behavior Checklist, respectively) in order to assess for psychological adjustment, and children completed the Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory for Youth to assess for emotional intelligence. Regression analyses were conducted to assess the relationship between emotional intelligence (EQi:YV) scores and psychological adjustment (ASEBA scores), as well as additional moderator effects on adjustment. A major goal of the study was to examine the relationship between emotional intelligence and overall adjustment in a pediatric cancer population. Child reports of adjustment and emotional intelligence indicated that higher emotional intelligence scores may predict better overall adjustment, as well as better functioning in terms of internalizing and externalizing behaviors. More specifically, better adjustment may be predicted by greater stress management skills and adaptability in children with chronic illnesses. Stage of illness and gender were not found to be significant mediators of the relationships. Age also serves as a predictor of internalizing behaviors, and internalizing behaviors increase with age; however, age does not moderate adjustment with emotional intelligence. Results also indicated a trend for age to serve as a predictor of total adjustment and externalizing behaviors, and problems in these areas may increase with age. Findings from this study may inform health care providers and educators about the relationship between the role of emotional intelligence and potential effects on adjustment that can impact functioning throughout the lifespan.