Screening for psychosocial risk at pediatric cancer diagnosis: the psychosocial assessment tool

J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2011 May;33(4):289-94. doi: 10.1097/MPH.0b013e31820c3b52.


Background: To investigate the feasibility of integrating an evidence-based screening tool of psychosocial risk in pediatric cancer care at diagnosis.

Methods: Parents of children newly diagnosed with cancer received either the Psychosocial Assessment Tool (PAT; n=52) or psychosocial care as usual (n=47; PAU), based on their date of diagnosis and an alternating monthly schedule. Time to completion of the PAT, time to communication of PAT results to clinical care teams, distribution of PAT risk scores, and identification of psychosocial risks in the medical record were examined.

Results: Of families receiving the PAT, 88% completed it within 48 hours. PAT was scored and results communicated within 48 hours in 98% of cases. Most families (72%) were classified as Universal risk based on the underlying Pediatric Psychosocial Preventative Health Model, 24% were classified as Targeted risk, and 4% scored in the Clinical range. Significantly more psychosocial risks were recorded in the medical record during PAT intervals than during PAU.

Conclusions: An evidence-based psychosocial screener is feasible in pediatric oncology care and is associated with documentation of psychosocial risks in the medical record. Although the majority of families report low levels of psychosocial risk, about one-quarter report problems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Checklist / methods
  • Checklist / standards
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Mass Screening / standards*
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Parents / psychology
  • Psychology
  • Psychology, Child
  • Psychometrics / methods
  • Psychometrics / standards
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult