Childhood cancer is a family disease, in that it significantly affects the life of patients and their parents and siblings. Cancer also can significantly impact children’s psychosocial functioning. As adults, childhood cancer survivors are faced with unique challenges related to secondary chronic health conditions, fertility, marriage and employment.
In light of these challenges, investigators are studying social, emotional and behavioral outcomes of children affected by cancer and its treatment. Ongoing studies are looking at palliative care education, family communication and family functioning, peer relationships, sibling outcomes and health promotion interventions on quality of life of patients and families affected by childhood cancer.
Faculty Focused on Psychosocial Factors in Cancer Research
Latest Findings in Psychosocial Factors in Cancer Research
Changes in Parents After the Death of a Child From Cancer
This study used interviews with bereaved parents and siblings to examine changes in parents during the first year after the death of achild from cancer.
Access an abstract of this study: Changes in Parents After the Death of a Child From Cancer. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2012 Jul 10. [Epub ahead of print]
How Health Literacy Variables Related to Parents’ Understanding of Their Child’s Cancer Prognosis
This study examined whether physician communication or parent sources of medical information could help explain the parental tendency to overestimate their child’s cancer prognosis relative to physicians. Findings showed that factors related to prognosis literacy do not seem to impact a parent’s understanding of their child’s cancer prognosis.
Access an abstract of this study: Health literacy variables related to parents' understanding of their child's cancer prognosis. Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2012 Mar 20. doi: 10.1002/pbc.24146. [Epub ahead of print]
Changes in Siblings After the Death of a Child From Cancer
Few studies have examined changes in siblings after the death of a brother or sister, particularly from mother, father, and sibling perspectives within the first year after death. This study found that most siblings experienced changes in multiple areas of their lives after the death of a brother or sister to cancer. Some changes reflected siblings that were positively adapting to the death, whereas other changes reflected difficulties.
Access an abstract of this study: Changes in Siblings After the Death of a Child From Cancer. Cancer Nurs. 2011 Nov 3. [Epub ahead of print]
Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms in Parents of Children with Cancer within Six Months of Diagnosis
This study investigated levels and correlates of posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) in mothers and fathers of children and youth with cancer. Results suggest that PTSS may be part of a broader pattern of emotional distress and that a substantial portion of both mothers and fathers of children and youth with cancer may be in need of supportive mental health services within the first six months of their child's diagnosis.
Access an abstract of this study: Posttraumatic stress symptoms in parents of children with cancer within six months of diagnosis. Health Psychol. 2011 Sep 26. [Epub ahead of print]
Peer Relationships of Bereaved Siblings and Comparison Classmates After a Child's Death from Cancer
This study compared peer relationships among bereaved siblings and matched classmates, and examined gender, grade level, and time since death as moderators. Bereaved siblings who were male and in elementary grades were more vulnerable to social difficulties, while those in middle/high school may exhibit some strengths. Ongoing research to inform the development of interventions for bereaved siblings is warranted.
Access an abstract of this study: Peer Relationships of Bereaved Siblings and Comparison Classmates After a Child's Death from Cancer. J Pediatr Psychol. 2011 Sep 24. [Epub ahead of print]
Current Psychosocial Factors in Cancer Grants
Learning, Education, Awareness, Prevention (LEAP) Young Adult Cancer, Prevent Cancer Foundation (Nicholas Yeager)
Symptom Clusters and Quality of Life among Families in Pediatric Palliative Care (Cynthia Gerhardt)