Childhood Cancer Survivors and Distance Education Challenges: Lessons Learned From the COVID-19 Pandemic

Lisa B. Carey, Kathy Ruble, Juliana Paré-Blagoev, Kimberly Milla, Clifton P. Thornton, Sydney Henegan, Lisa A. Jacobson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Pediatric cancer survivors have historically struggled to receive adequate educational supports. In Spring 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced an emergency switch from traditional in-person education models to distance education, but little information is available regarding experiences of pediatric survivors' coping with schooling since that time. Methods: This article presents exploratory mixed methods findings from a quality improvement project including qualitative interviews and a quantitative survey conducted with parents of pediatric oncology survivors identified through neuropsychological assessment, and the use of school-based services as having educationally relevant neurocognitive impacts of disease or treatment. The interviews explored experiences of education and instructional delivery during the COVID-19 school closures in spring of 2020 and the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year and served as the foundation for a quantitative survey to determine the generalizability of findings. Results: Qualitative interviews highlighted 3 emergent themes regarding the shared experiences of distance schooling for children with cancer during the COVID-19 school closures: (a) attention, (b) mental health, and (c) access to instruction. A follow-up quantitative survey supported the qualitative findings and their generalizability to the schooling experiences of other children with cancer during the pandemic. Conclusion: This article describes and explores each theme and offers suggestions for pediatric supports and changes to provider service delivery (including weblinks to access project-developed resources) as a result of ongoing pandemic-related schooling needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-24
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of pediatric psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • Neurocognitive/executive functioning
  • Oncology
  • School functioning
  • School-age children
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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