The aim of this study was to examine the emotional well-being of pediatric brain tumor survivors (PBTS) from the perspective of children’s self-reports and parents’ reports relative to matched comparison peers (COMP) and their parents. It was hypothesized that PBTS would self-report more depression symptoms, loneliness, and lower self-concept than COMP. We also hypothesized that mothers and fathers of PBTS would report more internalizing symptoms and lower total competence for their children. Age and sex effects were examined in exploratory analyses.
Families of 187 PBTS and 186 COMP participated across 5 sites. Eligible children in the PBTS group were 8–15 years of age and 1–5 years post-treatment for a primary intracranial tumor without progressive disease. COMP were classmates matched for sex, race, and age.
PBTS self-reported lower scholastic, athletic, and social competence, but not more depression, loneliness, or lower global self-worth than COMP. Parents of PBTS reported more internalizing symptoms and lower total competence than parents of COMP. With few exceptions, group differences did not vary as a function of child age and sex.
PBTS reported diminished self-concept in scholastic, athletic, and social domains, while their parents reported broader challenges with internalizing symptoms and total competence. Discrepancies between self-report and parent report require further study to inform targeted interventions for PBTS. Screening survivors for emotional challenges in follow-up clinic or in school setting may help with the allocation of psychosocial support and services for PBTS and their families.