Quality of life in pediatric oncology patients, caregivers and siblings after psychosocial screening: a randomized controlled trial

Support Care Cancer. 2020 Aug;28(8):3659-3668. doi: 10.1007/s00520-019-05160-x. Epub 2019 Dec 6.


Objective: We evaluated whether conducting psychosocial screening using a validated measure (the Psychosocial Assessment Tool, PAT) and providing a summary of PAT results to the patient's treating team improves quality of life (QOL) in newly diagnosed patients with cancer, their caregivers and siblings, in general, and in relation to the initial family psychosocial risk.

Methods: Families were randomly allocated to an intervention (IG, treating team received PAT summary describing low, medium, or high psychosocial risk) or control group (CG, no summary provided to treating team) in two Canadian pediatric cancer centers. Caregivers (N = 122) of children newly diagnosed with cancer, patients (n = 36), and siblings (n = 25) completed QOL assessments at 2-4 weeks (T1) and 6 months post-diagnosis (T2). Caregivers also completed PAT and proxy QOL for patient and sibling.

Results: In general, patient-proxy total QOL improved in IG compared to CG over time but only for high psychosocial risk patients (p < .05). Patient proxy cancer-related QOL improved over time regardless of group allocation; caregiver QOL also improved over time (ps < .05).

Conclusion: This study demonstrated the benefits of psychosocial screening results only on proxy patient QOL outcomes with high psychosocial risk near diagnosis. Evaluating QOL benefits in pediatric oncology patients is critical for establishing the clinical value of psychosocial screening.

Clinical trial registration number: NCT02788604 (REGISTERED WITH HTTPS://CLINICALTRIALS.GOV/CT2/SHOW/NCT02788604 ).

Keywords: Cancer; Caregivers; Children; Oncology; Psychosocial screening; Quality of life; Randomized control trial; Siblings.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Child
  • Family / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Psychometrics / methods
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Siblings / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02788604