Pediatric survivors of cancer have very mild to severe short- and long-term impairments of the musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiopulmonary, and integumentary systems, in addition to cognitive delays. These impairments may lead to participation restrictions into adulthood, such as reduced rates of graduation from high school and college or successful employment. The purpose of this study was to explore factors influencing adolescent and young adult childhood cancer survivors' choice of occupation and choice to attend college; specifically, to explore whether rehabilitation specialists (physical and occupational therapists, and/or physiatrists) had a role in this process.
Survey design study from a sample of convenience of adolescent and young adult childhood cancer survivors and parents. Participants were from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, and Lebanon Valley College (N=287; men 120, women 167). The study used a survey administered via Survey Monkey.
Participants reported family influence and cancer illness were “What/who was the biggest factor in the type of work you chose?” Thirty-three percent of children, 36% of non-students, and 44% of college students reported a change in desired work following cancer diagnosis. Parental influence, as well as physical, cognitive, and social impairments were reported to impact the survivor's decision regarding career choices and what specific college to attend.
This study identifies that childhood cancer survivors infrequently report consulting with a health care provider on personal decisions regarding career and/or college choices. This gap in consulting supports the need for childhood cancer survivors to have the opportunity to attend comprehensive survivorship clinics or other structured survivorship programs.