Children surviving cancer: Social anxiety, self-perception, quality of life, and school experiences

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Special Education

First Committee Member

Marjorie Montague - Committee Chair


The purpose of this study was to describe the social anxiety, self-perception, quality of life, and school experiences in post-treatment survivors of pediatric cancer. A multimodal, multi-source approach, including both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods was utilized to comprehensively describe the children and adolescents' perceptions and adjustments to cancer. This investigation gave voice to survivors' views related to educational and psychosocial sequelae of treatment.Data were collected from 51 survivors of childhood cancer who were 8--17 years old, off treatment for at least 6 months, and attending school. Participants completed the Social Anxiety Scale, Self-Perception Profile, Miami Pediatric Quality of Life Questionnaire, and participated in the semi-structured School Experience Interview. This study examined the influence of grade level, retention history, school placement following treatment, and school program during treatment on school experiences and psychosocial adjustment.Quantitative assessments revealed higher social anxiety in children than adolescents. Students in ESE classes following cancer treatment and those who were homebound during treatment experienced the greatest difficulties in psychosocial adjustment in the areas of scholastic competence, emotional stability and social competence. Gifted/honors students reported significantly higher behavioral conduct than students in ESE or regular classes.Qualitative results revealed that students who repeated a grade in school were generally unhappy in school and were particularly concerned with their academic performance and peer relationships. Students found homebound instruction during treatment academically inadequate and socially isolating.These results suggest that educators need knowledge and skills necessary to successfully assess and teach students who have cancer. Schools seemed to lack systematic approaches for providing appropriate opportunities for learning during the various phases of cancer treatment, remission, and long-term follow-up.Recommendations include establishing collaborative interdisciplinary comprehensive approaches to assessment and in order to enhance the overall functioning and educational competencies of survivors of childhood cancer. In addition, policy changes in homebound programs should be considered and instituted in order to ameliorate the current problems in the system.


Education, Sociology of; Education, Elementary; Education, Special; Education, Health; Health Sciences, Oncology

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