Behavioral Oncology Research

Investigators in the Section on Behavioral Oncology at the Center for Childhood Cancer Research apply behavioral translational research to improve the psychosocial outcomes and health-related quality of life of children, adolescents and young adults and their families who have been diagnosed and treated for cancer across the continuum of care.

We achieve our mission by developing, evaluating, and disseminating translational models of psychosocial risk and resilience and evidence-based practice; applying contextual models (e.g. family and social ecological) and providing leadership in behavioral translational research and training across health disciplines.

Our innovative research focuses on the following critical areas of inquiry in pediatric cancer: Psychosocial screening and intervention, including child and family distress and adjustment and applying technology in interventions; Quality improvement methodology to improve care; Children in the context of their families, schools, and communities; Adolescents and young adults (AYA); Health behaviors, disease management, and adherence; Transitions in care; Neurodevelopmental outcomes and computer- and family-based interventions targeting these outcomes; Health disparities.

The efforts of investigators at the CCCR have resulted in:

  • Development of psychosocial assessment tools for use at the time of cancer diagnosis and at the end of treatment to better identify and address psychosocial risks for pediatric cancer patients and their families
  • Assessment of treatment effects on long-term cognition, neuropsychological functioning and learning/education of pediatric brain tumor survivors and other survivors at risk for neurocognitive late effects
  • Enhanced methodologies for clinical evaluation of the acute toxicities, somatic symptoms associated with treatments (e.g., sleep and fatigue, pain, nausea), and clinical outcomes for pediatric cancer patients across the continuum of care
  • Enhanced understanding of decision making about enrollment in clinical trials and development of tools to support improved decision making processes for adolescents and young adults and their families
  • Identification of the family and caregiver factors that promote better outcomes in children who have recently completed treatment for a childhood brain tumor
  • Development of interventions to improve how families manage the needs of their young adult survivors of childhood brain tumors
  • Evaluation of computerized and family-based interventions to address the neurodevelopmental late effects of childhood brain tumor survivors
  • Examination of the family and social information processing factors that influence social functioning in childhood cancer survivors
  • Development of mobile health interventions to enhance adjustment, engagement, and uptake of survivorship care plans of adolescent and young adult survivors off treatment
  • Development of a model of readiness to transition to adult care and measure of transition readiness and evaluation of models of survivorship care
  • Evaluation of patient and parent preferences of integrative oncology services to inform future intervention development and programming

The depth, breadth and commitment of researchers at the CCCR have led to development of tools and interventional strategies to improve psychosocial outcomes across the continuum of pediatric cancer care and treatment. All faculty members within Behavioral Oncology are members of the Health and Behavior Research Affinity Group, and our research is advanced through cross-disciplinary collaborations at the regional, national and international levels.