Medline: 2921697

Journal of Pediatrics 114(3): 488-493, 1989.

Psychologic functioning in 8- to 16-year-old cancer survivors and their parents.

Greenberg HS, Kazak AE, Meadows AT


This study presents data on psychologic adjustment (self-concept, depression, locus of control, family environment, and parental distress) for a sample of 8- to 16-year-old long-term cancer survivors (n = 138) and their mothers, and for a sample consisting of a matched group of healthy children (n = 92) and their mothers. The null hypothesis of no group differences between survivors and control subjects was tested with respect to these variables. It was hypothesized that survivors with severe late effects would have poorer self-concepts, a more external locus of control, and more depressive symptoms than children with no or mild-to-moderate late effects. The children completed the Piers-Harris Self-Concept Scale, the Nowicki-Strickland Locus of Control Scale, and the Children's Depression Inventory. Mothers completed the Family Environment Scale and the Derogatis Stress Profile. The majority of former patients are functioning within normative limits on these standardized measures, although their scores were lower than those in the comparison group. One-way analyses of variance on the dependent measures indicate that the children with severe medical late effects have a poorer total self-concept, more depressive symptoms, and a more external locus of control than those with no or mild-to-moderate late effects. Therapies for childhood cancer are now well standardized and many long-term deleterious effects are known, so children at risk can be identified readily and steps taken early in treatment to prevent or mitigate future psychologic problems.

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Dr. G. Quade