children; knowledge of cancer; peer acceptance; peers with cancer
Wiley Online Library
Psychology in the Schools
The focus of this study was to explore children's evaluations of healthy peers and peers with cancer. A racially and ethnically diverse group of fourth‐ and fifth‐grade children (n = 109) viewed a story about a child engaged in a physically challenging rock climbing tower activity at camp. The way the child (healthy or with cancer) ascended and descended the climbing tower (independently or with assistance) was manipulated. Assessment from the participants included their evaluations of the climber (regarding peer acceptance and trait favorability) and their knowledge of cancer. Also, participants’ own behavioral difficulties were assessed by their parents. Results showed that when the climber was healthy, peer acceptance and bravery were higher when ascending independently compared to doing so with assistance. In contrast, the climber with cancer was accepted as a friend and deemed brave, regardless of climbing method. Results revealed that participants had high levels of knowledge about cancer and were likely to know that children with cancer can play outside if they saw just that in the story they heard. These findings suggest that presenting children with cancer engaging in authentic and destigmatizing activities can impact how they are perceived by their potential peers and thus could be an important component for school re‐entry programs.
Available for download on Sunday, February 12, 2023