Pediatric Oncology

  • Stacy R. FlowersEmail author
  • Aimee K. Hildenbrand
  • Jennifer A. Hansen-Moore
Part of the Issues in Clinical Child Psychology book series (ICCP)


This chapter provides an overview of key considerations when providing consultation-liaison services to pediatric oncology patients and their families. The chapter offers a brief overview of medical basics that are important to understand when working with this population. Strategies to enhance patient and family engagement and the benefits of early initiation of psychological consultation for youth with cancer are presented. The chapter provides an overview of case formulation, with an emphasis on primary domains to assess when completing an initial consult (e.g., medical history, family history, physical, emotional, cognitive, social, developmental, behavioral, academic, and socio-cultural), as well as examples of specific information to obtain within each domain. A succinct review of evidence-based psychological interventions that are most relevant to working with youth with cancer and their families is provided (e.g., coping and adjustment, behavioral concerns, adherence, physical symptoms, and end-of-life issues). Also included is information about the adaptation of psychology services, including a discussion of how service provision may differ across settings (i.e., inpatient unit, outpatient oncology clinic, and outpatient psychology clinic). Finally, a case example highlights the process of completing an initial psychology consultation for a newly diagnosed child with cancer and implementing targeted interventions. A Table included in the Appendix provides sample consultation questions for patients and caregivers across suggested domains.


Pediatric oncology Pediatric cancer Childhood cancer Pediatric psychology Consultation-liaison Psychology consult Psychosocial oncology Psycho-oncology 


  1. Anghelescu, D. L., Kelly, C. N., Steen, B. D., Wu, J., Wu, H., DeFeo, B. M., … Burgoyne, L. (2016). Mirror therapy for phantom limb pain at a pediatric oncology institution. Rehabil Oncol, 34(3), 104–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barrera, M., Neville, A., Purdon, L., & Hancock, K. (2018). “It’s just for us!” perceived benefits of participation in a group intervention for siblings of children with cancer. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 43(9), 995–1003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bhatia, S., Landier, W., Hageman, L., Kim, H., Chen, Y., Crews, K. R., … Relling, M. V. (2014). Adherence to oral 6-mercaptopurine in African American and Asian children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia: a Children’s Oncology Group study. Blood, 124(15), 2345–2353. Scholar
  4. Bitsko, M. J., Cohen, D., Dillon, R., Harvey, J., Krull, K., & Klosky, J. L. (2016). Psychosocial late effects in pediatric cancer survivors: A report from the Children’s Oncology Group. Pediatric Blood & Cancer, 63(2), 337–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Breyer, J. (2015). Talking to children and adolescents about cancer. In L. Wiener, M. Pao, A. E. Kazak, M. J. Kupst, A. F. Patenaude, & R. J. Arceci (Eds.), Pediatric psycho-oncology: A quick reference on the psychosocial dimensions of cancer symptom management (2nd ed., pp. 221–239). New York, NY: Oxford Press.Google Scholar
  6. Caes, L., Vervoort, T., Devos, P., Verlooy, J., Benoit, Y., & Goubert, L. (2014). Parental distress and catastrophic thoughts about child pain: Implications for parental protective behavior in the context of child leukemia-related medical procedures. The Clinical Journal of Pain, 30(9), 787–799.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Christiansen, H. L., Bingen, K., Hoag, J. A., Karst, J. S., Velazquez-Martin, B., & Barakat, L. P. (2015). Providing children and adolescents opportunities for social interaction as a standard of care in pediatric oncology. Pediatric Blood & Cancer, 62(Suppl 5), S724–S749.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Evans, N. T., Wakefield, C. E., McLoone, J. K., & Cohn, R. J. (2015). Familial diagnostic experiences in paediatric oncology. British Journal of Cancer, 112(1), 20–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Flowers, S. R., & Birnie, K. A. (2015). Procedural preparation and support as a standard of care in pediatric oncology. Pediatric Blood & Cancer, 62(Suppl 5), S694–S723.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gerhardt, C. A., Lehmann, V., Long, K. A., & Alderfer, M. A. (2015). Supporting siblings as a standard of care in pediatric oncology. Pediatric Blood & Cancer, 62(Suppl 5), S750–S804.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hedstrom, M., Ljungman, G., & von Essen, L. (2005). Perceptions of distress among adolescents recently diagnosed with cancer. Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, 27(1), 15–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hocking, M. C., Kazak, A. E., Schneider, S., Barkman, D., Barakat, L. P., & Deatrick, J. A. (2014). Parent perspectives on family-based psychosocial interventions in pediatric cancer: A mixed-methods approach. Support Care Cancer, 22(5), 1287–1294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kato, P. M., Cole, S. W., Bradlyn, A. S., & Pollock, B. H. (2008). A video game improves behavioral outcomes in adolescents and young adults with cancer: A randomized trial. Pediatrics, 122(2), e305–e317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kazak, A. E., Abrams, A. N., Banks, J., Christofferson, J., DiDonato, S., Grootenhuis, M. A., … Kupst, M. J. (2015). Psychosocial assessment as a standard of care in pediatric cancer. Pediatric Blood & Cancer, 62(Suppl 5), S426–S459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kazak, A. E., & Barakat, L. P. (1997). Brief report: Parenting stress and quality of life during treatment for childhood leukemia predicts child and parent adjustment after treatment ends. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 22(5), 749–758.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kazak, A. E., Simms, S., Alderfer, M. A., Rourke, M. T., Crump, T., McClure, K., … Reilly, A. (2005). Feasibility and preliminary outcomes from a pilot study of a brief psychological intervention for families of children newly diagnosed with cancer. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 30(8), 644–655.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kearney, J. A., Salley, C. G., & Muriel, A. C. (2015). Standards of psychosocial care for parents of children with cancer. Pediatric Blood & Cancer, 62(Suppl 5), S632–S683.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kreicbergs, U., Valdimarsdottir, U., Onelov, E., Henter, J. I., & Steineck, G. (2004). Talking about death with children who have severe malignant disease. The New England Journal of Medicine, 351(12), 1175–1186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kupst, M. J., & Patenaude, A. F. (2015). Coping with pediatric cancer. In L. S. Wiener, M. Pao, A. E. Kazak, M. J. Kupst, & A. F. Patenaude (Eds.), Pediatric psycho-oncology: A quick reference on the psychosocial dimensions of cancer symptom management (pp. 241–250). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Landier, W., Armenian, S. H., Meadows, A. T., & Bhatia, S. (2015). Late effects of childhood cancer and its treatment. In P. A. Pizzo & D. G. Poplack (Eds.), Principles and practice of pediatric oncology (Vol. 62, 7th ed., p. 275). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer Health.Google Scholar
  21. Lichtenthal, W. G., Sweeney, C. R., Roberts, K. E., Corner, G. W., Donovan, L. A., Prigerson, H. G., & Wiener, L. (2015). Bereavement follow-up after the death of a child as a standard of care in pediatric oncology. Pediatric Blood & Cancer, 62(Suppl 5), S834–S869.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lyon, M. E., Jacobs, S., Briggs, L., Cheng, Y. I., & Wang, J. (2013). Family-centered advance care planning for teens with cancer. JAMA Pediatrics, 167(5), 460–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Manne, S., Mee, L., Bartell, A., Sands, S., & Kashy, D. A. (2016). A randomized clinical trial of a parent-focused social-cognitive processing intervention for caregivers of children undergoing hematopoetic stem cell transplantation. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 84(5), 389–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Marsac, M. L., Hildenbrand, A. K., Clawson, K., Jackson, L., Kohser, K., Barakat, L., … Alderfer, M. A. (2012). Acceptability and feasibility of family use of The Cellie Cancer Coping Kit. Support Care Cancer, 20(12), 3315–3324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mullins, L. L., Fedele, D. A., Chaffin, M., Hullmann, S. E., Kenner, C., Eddington, A. R., … McNall-Knapp, R. Y. (2012). A clinic-based interdisciplinary intervention for mothers of children newly diagnosed with cancer: A pilot study. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 37(10), 1104–1115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Pai, A. L., & McGrady, M. E. (2015). Assessing medication adherence as a standard of care in pediatric oncology. Pediatric Blood & Cancer, 62(Suppl 5), S818–S828.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Patenaude, A. F., Pelletier, W., & Bingen, K. (2015). Communication, documentation, and training standards in pediatric psychosocial oncology. Pediatric Blood & Cancer, 62(Suppl 5), S870–S895.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Rosenberg, A. R., Bradford, M. C., Barton, K. S., Etsekson, N., McCauley, E., Curtis, J. R., … Yi-Frazier, J. P. (2018). Hope and benefit finding: Results from the PRISM randomized controlled trial. Pediatric Blood & Cancer, 66, e27485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sahler, O. J., Varni, J. W., Fairclough, D. L., Butler, R. W., Noll, R. B., Dolgin, M. J., … Mulhern, R. K. (2002). Problem-solving skills training for mothers of children with newly diagnosed cancer: A randomized trial. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 23(2), 77–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Thompson, A. L., Christiansen, H. L., Elam, M., Hoag, J., Irwin, M. K., Pao, M., … Kelly, K. P. (2015). Academic continuity and school reentry support as a standard of care in pediatric oncology. Pediatric Blood & Cancer, 62(Suppl 5), S805–S817.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Thompson, A. L., & Young-Saleme, T. K. (2015). Anticipatory guidance and psychoeducation as a standard of care in pediatric oncology. Pediatric Blood & Cancer, 62(Suppl 5), S684–S693.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Wiener, L., Battles, H., Mamalian, C., & Zadeh, S. (2011). ShopTalk: A pilot study of the feasibility and utility of a therapeutic board game for youth living with cancer. Support Care Cancer, 19(7), 1049–1054.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Wiener, L., Kazak, A. E., Noll, R. B., Patenaude, A. F., & Kupst, M. J. (2015). Standards for the psychosocial care of children with cancer and their families: An introduction to the special issue. Pediatric Blood & Cancer, 62(Suppl 5), S419–S424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wiener, L., McConnell, D. G., Latella, L., & Ludi, E. (2013). Cultural and religious considerations in pediatric palliative care. Palliative & Supportive Care, 11(1), 47–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wiener, L., Zadeh, S., Battles, H., Baird, K., Ballard, E., Osherow, J., & Pao, M. (2012). Allowing adolescents and young adults to plan their end-of-life care. Pediatrics, 130(5), 897–905.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Yi-Frazier, J. P., Fladeboe, K., Klein, V., Eaton, L., Wharton, C., McCauley, E., & Rosenberg, A. R. (2017). Promoting Resilience in Stress Management for Parents (PRISM-P): An intervention for caregivers of youth with serious illness. Families, Systems & Health, 35(3), 341–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stacy R. Flowers
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Aimee K. Hildenbrand
    • 4
    • 5
  • Jennifer A. Hansen-Moore
    • 6
    • 7
  1. 1.Family Medicine ResidencyDaytonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Family MedicineBoonshoft School of MedicineDaytonUSA
  3. 3.Wright State UniversityDaytonUSA
  4. 4.Nemours/AI duPont Hospital for ChildrenWilmingtonUSA
  5. 5.Division of Behavioral HealthCenter for Healthcare Delivery ScienceNew YorkUSA
  6. 6.Department of Pediatric Psychology and NeuropsychologyNationwide Children’s HospitalColumbusUSA
  7. 7.Department of PediatricsThe Ohio State University College of MedicineColumbusUSA

Personalised recommendations