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Project Description (3)

Communication, Coping, and Executive Function in Children with Cancer

Study Description

The diagnosis and treatment of pediatric cancer are major stressors that interrupt daily life and lead to distress for children diagnosed with the disease and their parents. Factors such as parent-child communication about the cancer and the child’s level of cognitive development may influence how children cope with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. This project examines how children’s cognitive development, and specifically their level of executive function, is related to their coping and communication about their illness. Further, the project examines the match between parental communication and children’s levels of executive function when parents and children discuss the child’s cancer. We are especially interested in children’s working memory and cognitive flexibility, two domains of executive function that are important in understanding and managing complex information and solving problems.

Families of children who are diagnosed with cancer are asked to complete questionnaires and a videotaped interaction as part of the overall Coping and Communication project. Families who complete those studies are then invited to participate in an assessment of the child’s cognitive and executive functioning, and a second wave of data collection 3 to 5 years from diagnosis. Findings from this study will contribute to better ways to help children and their parents communicate about and cope with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.


This project is supported in part by grants from the National Cancer Institute (National Research Service Award for Individual Predoctoral Fellowships awarded to Erin Rodriguez 1F31CA136284) and the Vanderbilt University CTSA from NCRR/NIH (grant 1 UL1 RR024975).