Current Recruiting

Family Resilience Research Project

What is the Project about?

Currently a lot is known about individual resilience, and what predicts it, but relatively little is known about family resilience. We know that family functioning is one of the biggest predictors of children’s outcomes during and after parental cancer. We also know that parental cancer poses challenges to maintaining a strong family. Some families are strengthened by the experience. Some are weakened by it. We want to understand the difference so we can better support families going through parental cancer.

Every year, another 21,000 young people aged 12-25 hear the devastating news that their parent has cancer. Canteen research shows that they’re three to six times more likely to face mental health issues like depression and anxiety than their friends. Young people’s reactions to parental cancer depend heavily on the family environment. Young people who rate their family as more functional, with better communication and cohesion, and less conflict, tend to have fewer mental health and behavioural issues. Interviews with parents reveal that cancer poses challenges to the family environment.

The Family Resilience Research Project examines how a parental cancer diagnosis affects family functioning over the course of a year. The primary aim is to identify what characteristics, attitudes, and behaviours help families to maintain or restore healthy family functioning and individual mental health outcomes during this time. The results of this research will help us identify families that require extra support and determine what support will help families in this position.

Parents who have 8-25 years old children and have been diagnosed with cancer in the last 9 months, their partner (if applicable and willing), and their 12 to 25 year old children (if willing).


If you decide to participate, you will be asked to fill out 3 surveys online or on paper (your choice). One now, one in 6 months, and one in 12 months. Each survey will ask about the cancer, your family, and your feelings. After the second and third surveys, you may be invited to participate in a phone interview. You can decide then whether you want to or not.

If you wish to participate, or ask further questions, please:

Complete the screening questionnaire online at


Contact Dr Mara Skrabal or Martha Gerges
1800 243 007

If you are a Young Person, 
Please ask your parent to consider participating (instructions above) and ask them to nominate you as another participant from the family.

The ethical aspects of this study have been approved by the Hunter New-England Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) [17/07/19/4.03]. If you are not happy with how we are doing the study or how we treat you, then you can call the Hunter New-England Ethics Committee Executive Officer on 02 4921 4950 or email


We are very grateful to our recruiting sites:

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

The conduct of this study at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre has been authorised by the Peter Mac Research Governance. Any person with concerns or complaints about the conduct of this study may contact Peter Mac Research Governance Officer on 03 8559 7540 or the Consumer Liason Officer on 03 8559 7517 and quote reference number HREC/17/HNE/294.

John Hunter Hospital

The ethical aspects of this study and conduct of this study at the John Hunter Hospital have been approved by the  Hunter New-England HREC [17/07/19/4.03].  If you are not happy with how we are doing the study or how we treat you, then you can call the Hunter New-England Ethics Committee Executive Officer on 02 4921 4950 or email


If you would like to know more about the Family Resilience Project, please contact Martha Gerges on 1800 243 007, email the research team at, or register your interest here: