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Am Psychol. 2015 Feb-Mar;70(2):146-58. doi: 10.1037/a0035695.

The integration of psychology in pediatric oncology research and practice: collaboration to improve care and outcomes for children and families.

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Center for Healthcare Delivery Science, Nemours Children's Health System.
Department of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh.


Childhood cancers are life-threatening diseases that are universally distressing and potentially traumatic for children and their families at diagnosis, during treatment, and beyond. Dramatic improvements in survival have occurred as a result of increasingly aggressive multimodal therapies delivered in the context of clinical research trials. Nonetheless, cancers remain a leading cause of death in children, and their treatments have short- and long-term impacts on health and well-being. For over 35 years, pediatric psychologists have partnered with pediatric oncology teams to make many contributions to our understanding of the impact of cancer and its treatment on children and families and have played prominent roles in providing an understanding of treatment-related late effects and in improving quality of life. After discussing the incidence of cancer in children, its causes, and the treatment approaches to it in pediatric oncology, we present seven key contributions of psychologists to collaborative and integrated care in pediatric cancer: managing procedural pain, nausea, and other symptoms; understanding and reducing neuropsychological effects; treating children in the context of their families and other systems (social ecology); applying a developmental perspective; identifying competence and vulnerability; integrating psychological knowledge into decision making and other clinical care issues; and facilitating the transition to palliative care and bereavement. We conclude with a discussion of the current status of integrating knowledge from psychological research into practice in pediatric cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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