The Psychosocial Impact of Pediatric Cancer on the Family Unit
Pediatric cancer has varying degrees of impact on the children and their families. It is an extremely distressing experience for everyone involved and requires a significant degree of support, coping, and adaptation. By understanding the psychosocial consequences of the arduous cancer treatment to the child and their family, healthcare providers can identify the gaps in the provision of holistic medical and psychosocial care, prevent the impact of childhood cancer, and strengthen the coping capacity for children and their families once a child is diagnosed with cancer. This will help improve the delivery of better healthcare services for childhood cancer patients and strengthen the relationship with families to ensure the most effective treatment possible.
Des Moines University students, staff, and faculty, Des Moines area physicians, nurses, social workers, other medical professionals, healthcare community, and families who have been affected by pediatric cancer.
Upon conclusion of this program, learners will be able to:
- Recognize the psychosocial impact of pediatric cancer on each individual unit including parents and siblings.
- Discuss the ethical issues surrounding sibling organ and bone marrow donations.
- Explore resources available to providers and their patients.
Psychosocial Impact of Pediatric Cancer on the Family Unit
Melissa A. Alderfer, Ph.D.
Staff Psychologist, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
As a clinical psychologist in the Division of Oncology, I provide psychosocial care for patients and their families. A diagnosis of childhood cancer often requires the child and family to put “normal life” on hold. The patient often needs to miss school, at least one parent may need to take time off from work and healthy siblings within the family may suddenly be under the care of extended relatives or family friends. All of this occurs while emotions are running high. I see my job as one of helping cancer patients and their families regain some sense of stability and order in their lives. My clinical and research interests focus on understanding and improving the adjustment of families when a child is diagnosed with cancer. To do this, I consider both children and parents in the context of the family — and the family in the context of their larger community (school, work settings, neighborhoods.) For example, some of my research aims to help adolescents with cancer and their parents work together more effectively to achieve better adherence to cancer treatment.
A current emphasis in my research is to understand how siblings of children with cancer adjust to the experience, and how family members, friends, teachers and classmates may help in that process. As we gather more information about siblings of children with cancer, we hope to develop more programs at Children’s Hospital specifically aimed at ensuring that these siblings are provided with the support they need.
Building on my interest in bridging the hospital and the community, I am very interested in how children with cancer function in the schools. My clinical work focuses upon providing neurocognitive assessments to children who have survived cancer, and identifying ways to foster their learning and academic achievement. These evaluations also involve helping parents negotiate the school system to best advocate for their children.
Continuing Education Credit
- AAMA: 2.5 CEUs, either- Clinical or General.
- AOA: Des Moines University and the AOA Council on Continuing Medical Education approve this program for a maximum of 1.0 hour of AOA Category 2-A and 1.5 hours of AOA Category 2-B hours.
- IBON: Des Moines University Continuing Medical Education (provider #112) is approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing as an accredited provider. This program has been reviewed and approved for a maximum of 3.0 continuing education contact hours.
- Other: Attendees will be given a certificate of participation for a maximum 2.5 continuing education hours.
- 1.00 AOA Category 2A
- 1.50 AOA Category 2B
- 3.00 IBON
- 2.50 CE Contact Hour(s)