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Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2017 Nov;64(11). doi: 10.1002/pbc.26634. Epub 2017 May 19.

Implementing the psychosocial standards in pediatric cancer: Current staffing and services available.

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Nemours Alfred I duPont Hospital for Children, Nemours Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, Wilmington, Delaware.
Nemours Children's Health System, Nemours Center for Healthcare Delivery Science, Wilmington, Delaware.
Nemours Children's Health System, Nemours Children's Specialty Care, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Jacksonville, FL.
Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, Pediatric Oncology Branch, Bethesda, Maryland.
Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Department of Pediatrics, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.



Fifteen evidence-based Standards for Psychosocial Care for Children with Cancer and Their Families (Standards) were published in 2015. The Standards cover a broad range of topics and circumstances and require qualified multidisciplinary staff to be implemented. This paper presents data on the availability of psychosocial staff and existing practices at pediatric oncology programs in the United States, providing data that can be used to advocate for expanded services and prepare for implementation of the Standards.


Up to three healthcare professionals from 144 programs (72% response rate) participated in an online survey conducted June-December 2016. There were 99 pediatric oncologists with clinical leadership responsibility (Medical Director/Clinical Director), 132 psychosocial leaders in pediatric oncology (Director of Psychosocial Services/Manager/most senior staff member), and 58 administrators in pediatric oncology (Administrative Director/Business Administrator/Director of Operations). The primary outcomes were number and type of psychosocial staff, psychosocial practices, and identified challenges in the delivery of psychosocial care.


Over 90% of programs have social workers and child life specialists who provide care to children with cancer and their families. Fewer programs have psychologists (60%), neuropsychologists (31%), or psychiatrists (19%). Challenges in psychosocial care are primarily based on pragmatic issues related to funding and reimbursement.


Most participating pediatric oncology programs appear to have at least the basic level of staffing necessary to implement of some of the Standards. However, the lack of a more comprehensive multidisciplinary team is a likely barrier in the implementation of the full set of Standards.


pediatric oncology; psychosocial; standards of care

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