Cognitive and behavioural rehabilitation interventions for survivors of childhood cancer with neurocognitive sequelae: A systematic review

Neuropsychol Rehabil. 2024 Feb 23:1-28. doi: 10.1080/09602011.2024.2314880. Online ahead of print.


There is considerable interest in cognitive and behavioural interventions to manage and improve neurocognitive (dys)functions in childhood cancer survivors and the literature is rapidly growing. This systematic review aimed to examine the literature of such interventions and their impact on executive functions (EFs) and attention. A search of relevant manuscripts was performed in PubMed, PsycINFO, and Web of Science in March 2023 in accordance with the PRISMA statement. After screening 3737 records, 17 unique studies published between 2002 and 2022 were charted and summarized. Participants (N = 718) were mostly children (M = 12.2 years), who were long-term survivors (M = 5.0 years post treatment) of brain or CNS tumours (48%). Identified interventions included computerized cognitive training, physical activity, and cognitive interventions with compensatory strategy training. The highest quality RCT studies included computerized training (i.e., Cogmed), neurofeedback, and exergaming. Evidence suggests that Cogmed may improve the performance of certain working memory tasks (near transfer) and possibly improve visual attention tasks for individuals with working memory impairments. However, the evidence did not support far transfer of effects to real life. No significant effects (near or far-transfer) were found following neurofeedback and exergaming interventions. Finally, a knowledge gap was identified for interventions directed at long-term survivors in adulthood.

Keywords: Childhood cancer; Cognitive dysfunction; Long-term sequelae; Rehabilitation; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Review