Supporting the schooling of children with cancer: Families’ perspectives of the Women’s & Children’s Hospital (WCH) Oncology Education Programme.

Gannoni, A.,1 Delloso, S.,2 Fernandez, K.,1 James, A.,1 &  Roberts, R.2

1Women’s & Children’s Hospital Network, SA Health, 2University of Adelaide 

 

Background and aims: Following on from an earlier study by Roberts et al (2014) which found that a significant proportion of children treated for cancer at the WCH had repeated a school grade, the WCH’s Oncology Education Programme was developed to prioritise schooling during treatment, facilitate school engagement, and promote positive academic and social outcomes. In this presentation, the WCH’s Oncology Education Programme’s service delivery components will be described and the outcome of a recently completed qualitative study exploring parents’ perceptions of the Programme, including its delivery, impact and gaps will be reported.

Methods: Eligibility criteria for this qualitative study included parents whose child was of kindergarten or school age during treatment (3-18 years), had undergone treatment for any type of cancer at the WCH from May 2015–March 2018, and was currently in the ‘maintenance’ phase of treatment, or had completed treatment. Nine parents and two children participated in an interview about their experiences of the Programme and sixteen families completed a survey.

Results: Six major themes were identified including experiences with the Programme’s components, communication, burden of responsibility and perceived impacts of cancer on schooling. As a result of the study, quality improvements are currently being developed and incorporated into the Programme.

Conclusions: Although recommendations to support the schooling of children with cancer exist, few hospital-based interventions have been described in the literature, especially in an Australian context. Therefore, limited evidence is available to guide clinical practice. This study provides an example of WCH’s approach to supporting the schooling of children with cancer and dissemination of the study’s findings are under consideration.


Anne Gannoni

Anne Gannoni is Principal Lead for Psychology, Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service, WCHN and also works in the area of chronic illness and injury in the Department of Psychological Medicine, WCH.

Anne’s PhD thesis, which was awarded in 2003 from Flinders University, focused on children’s adjustment to chronic illness. Anne is a member of the Clinical Colleges of both the Australian Psychological Society and the British Psychological Society.

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