Decision Making in Pediatric Hematology & Oncology Patients

Dara Steinberg, Assistant Professor of Medical Psychology, Department of Pediatrics and Department of Psychiatry

When faced with hematological and oncological conditions families must make a number of decisions involving treatment. At times they must weigh longevity vs. late effects. At other times they must decide whether to pursue treatment that could improve outcomes are quality of life, but are arduous and time-intensive for families and their medical teams. Adding to the complexity of decision-making is that parents are acting as proxies for their children who may not have the developmental or cognitive capacity to participate actively in the decision making process. The COVID-19 pandemic is a unique situation for families, patients, and the medical community. How and if an event of this scale factors into decisions families make regarding the care of their children, who are already often immunocompromised, and dealing with other aspects of acute and chronic medical conditions is unknown. Whether they consider their child’s emotional state when making these decisions is also unknown. Additionally, the manner in which children with oncological and hematological conditions cope with the pandemic is also unknown.