Supporting Children with Cancer: The Cellie Cancer Coping Kit

Cellie Cancer Coping KitI love it when research gets translated into practice. This guest post by Aimee Hildenbrand, BS & Meghan Marsac, PhD shows a great example. Aimee is a doctoral student at Drexel University and a clinical research assistant at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Meghan is a pediatric psychologist and the center’s Director of Training.

While children with cancer and their families are often resilient, the invasive and painful medical procedures, emotions, and changes to daily life that come with illness can be overwhelming. In fact, children with cancer frequently consider treatment to be more traumatic than cancer itself, underlining the need for comprehensive medical care that incorporates psychosocial services. However, supportive care tools tailored to the experience of childhood cancer and its treatment are limited.

To help address children and caregivers’ need for emotional support during pediatric cancer treatment, our team at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia developed the Cellie Cancer Coping Kit (Cellie Kit). Continue reading

Trusted advice for children, families and professionals after a major disaster or attack

Newtown tragedy

I wrote this blogpost for those involved in the tragedy in Newtown. A few days ago, it was sadly directly relevant again, for the survivors of the attacks in Boston. And today (18/4), it goes for the survivors in Texas. Please find resources below and let me know if you have any questions.

An extended version of this blogpost has been published on the Huffington Post.

With the storm of media attention for the terrible events and the enormous social media response, it may be difficult to tell what is evidence-informed advice and which are well-intended-but-ungrounded tips.

Therefore, below is a quick and limited overview of links that can be trusted: Continue reading

Helping children after Hurricane Sandy and other disasters

Dr. Betty Lai‘s guestpost on disaster recovery was planned a few weeks ago and couldn’t turn out more timely: Hurricane Sandy has affected many children while ravaging large areas in the Carribean and the US. Betty is a clinical psychologist and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Miami

Each year, millions of children are exposed to natural disasters. Many children who experience a natural disaster may report symptoms of posttraumatic stress or depressive symptoms. In a recent study, we examined these symptoms and their comorbidity among 277 children (7 -11 years old) exposed to Hurricane Ike, a destructive natural disaster that hit Galveston, Texas in September 2008. Continue reading

Youth consultation when planning for emergencies

Australia has experienced a number of large disasters in the past few years. Examples are the extensive floods in Queensland in 2011 and the deadly bushfires in 2009. Susan Davie works in government emergency management and is a big advocate for engaging youth in the planning process. She shares her impressions of a pilot youth consultation.

One of the gaps in emergency management (EM) planning in Australia is the lack of consultation with young people. In essence young people do not have a voice, even though there is no doubt that children and young people are affected by disasters and emergency events. They do have specific needs, from child toilets in evacuation facilities to youth-centered psychosocial interventions.

Health and Human Services Emergency Management in Victoria is currently coordinating a project on planning for children and young people in emergency management.[i] As part of this project, we just undertook a pilot youth consultation in the Macedon Ranges Shire, a beautiful area at about an hour’s drive from Melbourne. The local committee was keen to hear the thoughts and ideas of young people and integrate them in their emergency management plans. Continue reading

The consequences of fatal domestic violence for children

A man kills his wife in a moment of rage and flees the house while the children are still with their mother. A mother stabs her husband to death after years of domestic violence. These stories are barely imaginable but too often they happen in reality.

In the Netherlands, estimations are that 40 people are killed by their (ex) partners every year. Many of them leave children behind. In the United States, about 2000 to 3000 children are thought to be affected yearly

In order to get a better understanding of children’s situation after fatal violence, our team at the Dutch National Psychotrauma Center for Children and Youth studied the cases of 38 children (from 25 families) of whom one biological parent killed the other biological parent. We set out to answer four exploratory questions:

1) What did the children experience? Continue reading