The potential utility of parent-reported attention screening in survivors of childhood cancer to identify those in need of comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation.
BACKGROUND: Survivors of childhood cancer are at risk for neuropsychological late effects, yet identifying those in need of evaluation and obtaining needed services can be challenging for the medical team. Finding time- and cost-effective screening measures that can be used to identify children in need of evaluation is a clinical priority. Our objective was to investigate the association between parent-rated attention problems and related neuropsychological impairments in childhood cancer survivors as a means of identifying those at high risk for difficulties. METHODS: Cognitive and psychosocial data of survivors who completed neuropsychological evaluations were retrospectively abstracted. Parents of 70 survivors of pediatric cancer (mean age, 11.6 years) completed the Conners Parent Rating Scale and the Child Behavior Checklist. Children also completed a measure of intellectual functioning. The 18 symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity were abstracted from the Conners questionnaire, and participants were classified according to whether or not they met attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptom criteria (≥6 inattentive symptoms). RESULTS: Survivors who met symptom criteria for ADHD (27%) demonstrated greater impairments in IQ and working memory, but not processing speed, than survivors who did not. Meeting ADHD symptom criteria was also associated with greater externalizing and social problems but not more internalizing symptoms. ADHD symptom screening was associated with low sensitivity (range = 26.3%-69.2%) but stronger specificity (range = 75.0%-82.7%) for neuropsychological difficulties. CONCLUSION: Parental ratings of attentional symptoms may be a useful way to screen survivors who may be in need of a full neuropsychological assessment.
Hardy, KK; Willard, VW; Wigdor, AB; Allen, TM; Bonner, MJ
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