Date of Award
Adult survivors of pediatric cancer are at risk of developing “late effects” which are deficiencies in physical, cognitive, and/or social functioning that are usually due to long-term cancer treatment and hospitalization at a young age. These late effects can significantly impact survivors’ well-being and prevent them from leading successful, independent lives. The aim of our research was to investigate whether participation in cancer-related support groups could lessen the impact of late effects. Specifically, we examined whether the degree of engagement with cancer-related support groups was related to the level of cognitive and social functioning in adult pediatric cancer survivors. Through an online questionnaire, we assessed the cognitive ability and social development of 30 adult survivors who had participated in cancer-related support groups. We compared survivors’ scores with published cognitive and social functioning data from the general pediatric cancer survivor population and the general adult population. We also correlated their scores with a measure of their involvement with support groups. Results demonstrated that support group engagement was negatively associated with IQ levels (r(15) = -.477, p = .053), marriage status (r(21) = -.413, p = .05), and life satisfaction (t(28) = -2.149, p = .04), and that cognitive late effects were apparent among adult survivors (Shipley-Hartford: t(18) = -2.16, p = .044, Synonym Antonym: t(19) = -2.854, p = 0.01). Survivors reported moderately high engagement with their support groups and believed that their groups offered restorative benefits (M = 23.09, s = 4.36). Implications of these results include that support groups should continue to be utilized as a means of survivor therapy, and support group administrators should be made aware of the impact of late effects so that they may implement efforts to help mediate their influence.
MacCarthy, Mary, "Thriving Beyond Surviving: An Examination of the Role Support Groups Play in Enhancing Later Cognitive and Social Development of Pediatric Cancer Patients" (2018). Undergraduate Honors Thesis Collection. 445.