The optimal outcome for a child and family facing the diagnosis of cancer or other medical condition requires the efforts of a multidisciplinary team of professionals, including pediatric oncologists, nurses, psychologists, social workers, and rehabilitation therapists. Early attention to the psychological and social-emotional needs of the child and family results in better adjustment, increased medication adherence, improved quality of life (QOL), greater trust between the medical team and the family, and greater satisfaction with care. Development of new treatments that reduce neurotoxicities can result in fewer and less severe cognitive deficits and a better QOL, while the identification of learning and social-emotional problems can promote early interventions for improved functioning in school, work, peer and family relationships, and daily activities.
The Behavioral Sciences Core consists of two separate but interrelated components: 1) Psychosocial Program and 2) Neurobehavioral Program. Both components have been in existence separately for many years, and each has a long-standing commitment and record of supporting the patients and collaborative multidisciplinary research agenda of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). This core program is designed to develop protocols investigating specific psychosocial and neuropsychological effects of chronic illness, provide specialized research support to clinical trials using neuropsychological and quality of life outcome measures, and offer clinical services to the patients and families enrolled on studies throughout the National Cancer Institute.