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Comprehensive Handbook of Childhood Cancer and Sickle Cell DiseaseA Biopsychosocial Approach$
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Ronald T. Brown

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195169850

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195169850.001.0001

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Maximizing School, Academic, and Social Outcomes in Children and Adolescents With Cancer

Maximizing School, Academic, and Social Outcomes in Children and Adolescents With Cancer

(p.313) 17 Maximizing School, Academic, and Social Outcomes in Children and Adolescents With Cancer
Comprehensive Handbook of Childhood Cancer and Sickle Cell Disease

Ernest R. Katz

Avi Madan-Swain

Oxford University Press

Medical advances incorporating intensive and difficult multimodal therapies have resulted in improved rates of survival in childhood cancer (Institute of Medicine, 2003). With improvements in disease management and survival, maintaining and enhancing maximal quality of life in young people living with cancer is the accepted psychosocial goal of comprehensive care (Armstrong & Briery, 2004; Institute of Medicine, 2003; Madan-Swain, Katz, & LaGory, 2004). As the primary venue for academic, cognitive, social, and emotional development during childhood and adolescence, ongoing participation and success in school are essential for positive health outcomes in young people (Brown, 2004; Madan- Swain et al., 2004). Actively engaging in school activities is an opportunity for the young person living with cancer and its often-difficult treatment to normalize an otherwise-disrupted life experience. School participation enhances quality of life and provides youths with hope for the future (Katz, 1980; Katz, Dolgin, & Varni, 1990; Katz, Kellerman, Rigler, Williams, & Siegel, 1977; Madan-Swain, Fredrick, & Wallender, 1999). Cancer and its treatment have been associated with multiple school-related difficulties, including attendance problems, fatigue, pain, teasing and social isolation from peers, neurocognitive impairments, and academic deficiencies (Armstrong, 2003; R. Butler & Copeland, 2002; Katz, 1980; Katz et al., 1977; Katz, Rubinstein, Hubert, & Blew, 1988; Keene, 2003; Madan-Swain et al., 1999; Mitby et al., 2003; Spinetta & Deasy-Spinetta, 1986). Psychosocial factors such as singleparent families, high levels of maternal distress, and non-English-speaking immigrant families each may further negatively impact a family’s ability to manage school and social difficulties experienced by their children (Madan-Swain et al., 2004; Madan-Swain, Katz, LaGory, 2004; Kazak et al., 1998; Mulhern, Wasserman, Friedman, & Fairclough, 1989; Sahler et al., 2005; Varni, Burwinkle, Katz, Meeske, & Dickinson, 2002). School and social difficulties in children and adolescents with cancer can best be understood within the disability, stress, and coping theoretical model of pediatric chronic physical disorders proposed by Varni and Wallender (Varni & Wallender, 1988; Wallender & Varni, 1989). Cancer produces chronic strains for both children and parents. Strains are defined as persistent objective conditions that require continual readjustment, repeatedly interfering with the adequate performance of ordinary role-related activities such as school and social relationships.

Keywords:   assertiveness training, classroom presentations, dying children, familial resources, homebound instruction, maternal adjustment, school absence

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