Functional disability, absenteeism, and self-perceived competencies as predictors of parent report of school performance in adolescent cancer survivors

Fern Sandler, Fordham University


The purposes of this study were: (a) to assess the relationships among school disruption, the degree of functional disability, and self-perceived competencies of adolescent cancer survivors at treatment completion; and (b) to examine whether these variables significantly predict school performance following treatment. Overall findings, based on previous research, indicate an at-risk status for adolescent cancer survivors with regard to school performance. The participants were 28 adolescent cancer patients and their families (13 males and 15 females). School disruption was assessed according to a categorical measure estimating the amount of school missed due to the illness and/or its treatment. The Self-Perception Profile for Adolescents (Harter, 1988) was used to describe an adolescent's perceived sense of competence. The Child Behavior Checklist/4-18 (Achenbach, 1991) measured academic performance, and the Functional Disability Inventory (Walker & Greene, 1991) assessed the impact of illness and or its treatment on adolescent functioning in everyday life. Findings suggested that when compared to normative data, the cancer sample had a significantly higher degree of functional disability, but overall, felt as competent, or more competent, on all 9 self-perception domains. No significant differences were detected on levels of academic performance. Within the present cancer sample, there were no significant relationships found between (a) the degree of school disruption and level of functional disability, (b) school disruption and self-perception, and (c) functional disability and self-perception at treatment completion. School performance at treatment completion was found to be the most significant predictor of school performance after treatment had ended. Gender was also found to significantly predict school performance after treatment completion, as did the Self-Perception subscale, Romantic Appeal. The results of this study suggested that despite significant degrees of functional disability and high absenteeism, adolescent cancer survivors manage to persevere in their schooling despite obstacles brought on by the illness or its treatment. Findings further suggested that both the role of gender, as well as the critical developmental task of sexual identity/romantic appeal, warrant further investigation in exploring the long-term implications of adolescent cancer survival and their academic performances.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Oncology|Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

Sandler, Fern, "Functional disability, absenteeism, and self-perceived competencies as predictors of parent report of school performance in adolescent cancer survivors" (2001). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3003029.