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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Educational and School Psychology

First Advisor

Linda Webster

Second Advisor

Robert Pianta

First Committee Member

Rachelle Hackett

Second Committee Member

Lynn Beck


Medical advances in the area of pediatric oncology have resulted in significantly increased rates of survivorship among children diagnosed with cancer. Accordingly, there has been increasing emphasis placed on long-term, quality-of-life issues for this population. Many agree that maintaining a typical or normalized lifestyle following diagnosis is important for positive adaptation and functioning during adulthood: many agree that, for children, school attendance is seen as an especially important developmental task. However, little attention has been paid to which variables are related to school absence and attendance following a cancer diagnosis. This study explored the extent to which illness-related and personal/environmental factors affect absence rates among a cohort of long-term survivors of pediatric cancer. Two samples ( n = 3039; n = 307) from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study, a multi-institutional longitudinal investigation, were subjected to analysis. Findings suggest that: (1) The hypothesized set of illness-related factors do predict membership in either a high or low absence group; (2) Additional medical problems account for a significant proportion of the variance explaining school absence; (3) Several personal/environmental factors predict absence beyond that which is explained by the presence of additional medical problems; and (4) Self-esteem serves as a protective factor in terms of school absence, especially for those children receiving central nervous system treatment. Findings are discussed with regard to future research and recommendations aimed towards supporting school reentry for pediatric cancer patients.





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