Social Functioning in Survivors of Pediatric Cancer: A Conceptual Model of Assessment
Many survivors of pediatric brain tumors and leukemia will experience cognitive, academic, and social difficulties that will significantly impact their quality of life. Of these, the least is known about the nature and range of survivors' social difficulties. Using a model developed for children with traumatic brain injury, the objective of the current study was to evaluate the neurocognitive and social-cognitive skills that may determine social outcomes in survivors of pediatric brain tumors and leukemia. A sample of survivors of childhood cancer aged 8 to 16 (n = 19) was compared to two control groups - children with ADHD (n = 10) and typically-developing children (n = 41) - on measures of neurocognitive skills, social-cognitive skills, and social experience. Results revealed that survivors demonstrated significant deficits in all domains as compared to typically-developing children. Evaluation of the model revealed that neurocognitive and social-cognitive skills were significant predictors of social experience. More specifically, attention problems and facial expression recognition were significant individual predictors. Survivors of pediatric cancer may experience deficits in social functioning that will impact their quality of life. Further assessment of the skills that influence social outcomes will be particularly important as a means for developing evidence-based interventions.
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