A World Leader in Children's Health

Lisa Schwartz, PhD

Psychologist

When a child has cancer, the patient and family can be affected for life. The cancer experience can promote long-term negative and positive changes. A positive aspect of the experience is that it can highlight and promote resiliency and strengths within a family. As a clinical psychologist, I listen carefully and empathetically to patients’ and families’ concerns while also assessing their strengths, coping strategies and goals.

Sometimes patients and families have goals related to the treatment, while other times they have goals in their personal and family lives that they would like to maintain and pursue. I try to answer questions such as: "Do they have goals they would like to accomplish, are their goals realistic, what strengths do they have to help them achieve their goals, and do they need extra support to accomplish them?" For adolescents and young adults, I consider how the experience affects their identity development and transition to adulthood. I also help in their transition to adult-oriented care for long-term follow-up after treatment.

My research broadly focuses on how patients and families adapt when they are affected by pediatric cancer. I most often conduct research with adolescent and young adult patients. Adolescents and young adults with cancer are a vulnerable and underserved population -- both medically and psychosocially. The experience of cancer during this developmentally fragile period makes adjustment more difficult for some patients. I'm looking closely at the impact of health on goals, from personal goals to the role of health-related goals in health behaviors. I also focus on patient symptoms and future health risks, compliance with provider recommendations, quality of life and transition to adult care. I'm developing new assessment tools to better understand the impact of cancer on adolescents and young adults and plan to develop interventions to improve their adjustment and health outcomes.

My ultimate objective is to help young cancer patients reach their potential as they transition to adulthood, whether they are on treatment or are long-term cancer survivors. I also hope my research will help clinicians better understand the unique needs, concerns and health behaviors of young cancer patients. This understanding will help facilitate better care that can improve psychological and health outcomes in pediatric cancer survivorship.

Articles

Schwartz LA, Mao JJ, Derosa BW, Ginsberg JP, Hobbie WL, Carlson CA, Mougianis ID, Ogle SK, Kazak AE. Self-reported health problems of young adults in clinical settings: survivors of childhood cancer and healthy controls. J Am Board Fam Med. 2010 May-Jun;23(3):306-14. Read abstract 

Kazak AE, Derosa BW, Schwartz LA, Hobbie W, Carlson C, Ittenbach RF, Mao JJ, Ginsberg JP. Psychological outcomes and health beliefs in adolescent and young adult survivors of childhood cancer and controls. J Clin Oncol. 2010 Apr 20;28(12):2002-7. Epub 2010 Mar 15. Read abstract

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