Pediatric cancer treatment and school attendance: lack of consensus remains
Immunosuppressive medications involved with cancer treatment make school attendance difficult for children with cancer.
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CHICAGO—A lack of consensus remains among clinicians for immunosuppressed children with cancer to attend school, according to research presented at the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) 2018 National Conference.
Kim Bira, RN, BSM, BA, DNP-C, Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and colleagues released a 4-week survey to pediatric oncology providers at 7 Children's Oncology Group-affiliated pediatric research hospitals throughout the United States to understand the present healthcare suggestions and trends to better provide insight to families with pediatric oncology patients.
After 4 weeks, 65 oncology providers, including nurse practitioners (52%), oncologists (40%), and registered nurses and other roles (8%), returned completed surveys. Respondents were predominantly women (84%); the average age was 41.4 years, and the average experience in oncology was 12.7 years.
Of the volunteers who completed the survey, 70% believed that school attendance was subjective and situation dependent; 25.4% believed that school must always be encouraged and pediatric patients should be urged to attend.
Volunteers also accounted for neutrophil measures in deciding their opinion (56%); 58% of clinicians noted that frequent disagreements are common on school attendance recommendations, 22% were neutral, and 21% agreed that providers agree on school attendance for their patients.
“No standard of practice exists regarding the recommendation for school attendance during cancer treatment, which causes uncertainty and varied recommendations from pediatric oncology providers,” wrote the investigators.
“A gap in the literature remains regarding guidelines for immunosuppressed pediatric oncology patients returning to school,” they continued. “More research is required to develop a clinical practical guideline.”
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- Bira K, Hercinger M, Potthoff M. School attendance and childhood cancer. Presented at the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners 2018 National Conference; March 19-22, 2018; Chicago.