Background: Self-concept was compared between adult survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and sibling controls. Adult survivor subgroups at greatest risk for negative self-concept were identified.
Procedure: Survivors (n = 578) aged > or =18 years, treated before age 20 years on Children's Cancer Group (CCG) ALL protocols, and 396 sibling controls completed a telephone interview and the Harter Adult Self-Perception Profile (ASPP).
Results: Survivors global self-worth scores were significantly lower than sibling controls (mean 3.09 vs. 3.18; P = 0.022). Unemployed survivors reported lower global self-worth scores than employed (mean 2.77 vs. 3.12; P = 0.0001), whereas employment status was not associated with self-worth in controls. Among survivors, predictors of negative self-concept included unemployment (odds ratio (OR) = 2.87; 95% CI: 1.50-5.50), and believing that cancer treatment limited employability (OR = 3.17; 95% CI: 1.79-5.62). Unemployment increased the odds for negative self-concept among survivors who received combinations of central nervous system (CNS) irradiation (CRT) and intrathecal methotrexate (IT-MTX), except high CRT with no or low dose IT-MTX. Employed survivors who perceived that treatment limited their employability showed increased odds of negative self-concept for all treatment groups compared to those who did not. Minority ethnic group membership was a borderline significant predictor of negative self-concept (OR = 1.79; 95% CI: 0.94-3.33).
Conclusions: Global self-worth was significantly lower in ALL survivors than sibling controls, however, 81% of survivors had positive self-concept. Survivor subgroups most vulnerable to negative self-concept were the unemployed survivors, believing that cancer treatment affected employability, and ethnic minority group members. Targeted intervention may have greater clinical relevance for these subgroups.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.