Social Functioning of Childhood Cancer Survivors after Computerized Cognitive Training: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Children (Basel). 2019 Sep 27;6(10):105. doi: 10.3390/children6100105.


Childhood cancer survivors are at risk for cognitive and social deficits. Previous findings indicate computerized cognitive training can result in an improvement of cognitive skills. The current objective was to investigate whether these cognitive gains generalize to social functioning benefits. Sixty-eight survivors of childhood cancer were randomly assigned to a computerized cognitive intervention (mean age 12.21 ± 2.47 years, 4.97 ± 3.02 years off-treatment) or waitlist control group (mean age 11.82 ± 2.42 years, 5.04 ± 2.41 years off-treatment). Conners 3 Parent and Self-Report forms were completed pre-intervention, immediately post-intervention and six-months post-intervention. Piecewise linear mixed-effects models indicated no significant differences in Peer Relations between groups at baseline and no difference in change between groups from pre- to immediate post-intervention or post- to six-months post-intervention (ps > 0.40). Baseline Family Relations problems were significantly elevated in the control group relative to the intervention group (p < 0.01), with a significantly greater decline from pre- to immediate post-intervention (p < 0.05) and no difference in change between groups from post- to six-months post-intervention (p > 0.80). The study results suggest cognitive gains from computerized training do not generalize to social functioning. Training focused on skill-based social processing (e.g., affect recognition) may be more efficacious.

Keywords: attention; brain tumors; childhood cancer; computerized cognitive training; executive functioning; late effects; leukemia; social functioning; social skills; survivors.