Date of Award:

5-2010

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Psychology

Advisor/Chair:

Clinton E. Field

Abstract

Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease for children under 15 years of age. Despite a growing survival rate for childhood cancer, psychological research of this population has lagged behind medical advances in treatment. The research that does exist in the psycho-oncology literature is plagued with inconsistency in conclusions and methodological limitations. Focus has been given to measuring maladaptive symptoms with few firm conclusions. Conclusions in the area of social competence of children with cancer have been considerably more reliable than in other domains. Previous research suggests that children with cancer exhibit significant difficulties in the areas of social competence (peer relationships, social functioning) when compared with healthy peers. Although this phenomenon has been consistently demonstrated, it had not been investigated longitudinally or with a focus on pre- and postdiagnosis differences in functioning. This project investigated individual change in social competence in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (the most common form of childhood cancer) during their first 3 months of treatment compared to normally developing controls.

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