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Psychooncology. 2013 Feb;22(2):447-58. doi: 10.1002/pon.3021. Epub 2012 Jan 25.

Are the psychological needs of adolescent survivors of pediatric cancer adequately identified and treated?

Author information

1
Department of Pediatrics, Section of Psychology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA. lskahall@texaschildrens.org

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To describe the psychological needs of adolescent survivors of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) or brain tumor (BT), we examined the following: (i) the occurrence of cognitive, behavioral, and emotional concerns identified during a comprehensive psychological evaluation and (ii) the frequency of referrals for psychological follow-up services to address identified concerns.

METHODS:

Psychological concerns were identified on measures according to predetermined criteria for 100 adolescent survivors. Referrals for psychological follow-up services were made for concerns previously unidentified in formal assessment or not adequately addressed by current services.

RESULTS:

Most survivors (82%) exhibited at least one concern across domains: behavioral (76%), cognitive (47%), and emotional (19%). Behavioral concerns emerged most often on scales associated with executive dysfunction, inattention, learning, and peer difficulties. Cranial radiation therapy was associated with cognitive concerns, χ(2) (1, N = 100) = 5.63, p < 0.05. Lower income was associated with more cognitive concerns for ALL survivors, t(47) = 3.28, p < 0.01, and more behavioral concerns for BT survivors, t(48) = 2.93, p < 0.01. Of the survivors with concerns, 38% were referred for psychological follow-up services. Lower-income ALL survivors received more referrals for follow-up, χ(2) (1, N = 41) = 8.05, p < 0.01. Referred survivors had more concerns across domains than non-referred survivors, ALL: t(39) = 2.96, p < 0.01; BT: t(39) = 3.52, p < 0.01. Trends suggest ALL survivors may be at risk for experiencing unaddressed cognitive needs.

CONCLUSIONS:

Many adolescent survivors of cancer experience psychological difficulties that are not adequately managed by current services, underscoring the need for long-term surveillance. In addition to prescribing regular psychological evaluations, clinicians should closely monitor whether current support services appropriately meet survivors' needs, particularly for lower-income survivors and those treated with cranial radiation therapy.

PMID:
22278930
PMCID:
PMC3360126
DOI:
10.1002/pon.3021
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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