Cancer Control Research5R03CA138122-02
EXPLORATION OF SOCIAL INFORMATION PROCESSING IN PEDIATRIC BRAIN TUMOR SURVIVORS
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Improvement in survival rates for children with brain tumors has been achieved by aggressive treatment, leading to concern about the long-term morbidity experienced by survivors. Although global and specific cognitive deficits are well documented for pediatric brain tumor survivors, far less research has been directed toward understanding social and emotional outcomes affecting quality of life. Deficits in social functioning appear to be a significant part of the morbidity experienced by these children, although the extent, basis, and consequences of these deficits remain poorly understood. This is of considerable concern given evidence that social dysfunction and disruption in peer relationships may have significant long-term implications for children's functioning at home, in school, and in the community. Almost no research has investigated whether specific neurocognitive, social-affective, and social problem solving deficits are associated with diminished social functioning and quality of life for pediatric brain tumor survivors. This is the overarching goal of the proposed research. We intend to examine how children's abilities and to think through social problems are associated with their daily social functioning. The proposed research would take advantage of an ongoing, multi-site study being conducted by our research team to compare the social, emotional, and family outcomes of school aged (8-15) children who are 1-5 years post treatment for a brain tumor. Teacher, peer, self, and parent report data are being obtained for brain tumor survivors and healthy comparison peers who attend the same schools and are matched for race, gender, and age. The proposed research would conduct additional assessments with these participants (n = 70 in each group) to evaluate cognitive-executive, social-affective, and social problem solving skills that may mediate or explain the social behavior and adjustment of brain tumor survivors. This work will make a significant contribution to efforts to identify children at greatest risk and inform efforts to design interventions that can prevent or ameliorate long term psychosocial difficulties for vulnerable children. Specific Aim 1: To examine social information processing in pediatric brain tumor survivors. Specific Aim 2: To examine associations between social information processing, social behavior, and social adjustment to determine if these patterns are consistent with a model that deficits in social information processing might mediate the development of difficulties with social behavior and adjustment for children treated for brain tumors. Specific Aim 3: To explore the extent to which the impact of pediatric brain tumors on social information processing varies as a function of diagnostic and treatment variables, particularly the use, dose, and timing of cranial radiation.