Health related quality of life and buffering factors in adult survivors of acute pediatric lymphoblastic leukemia and their siblings


Background: The improvement in treatment of pediatric acute lymphatic leukemia (ALL) has introduced new challenges for pediatric oncology care in understanding and handling long-term treatment-related complications later in adult life. The aim of this study was to describe health related quality of life (HRQoL) and the relation to buffering factors among young adult (YA) pediatric ALL survivors and their siblings.

Methods: This cross-sectional study was performed among 227 adults, treated for pediatric ALL in Sweden between 1985 and 1997 and their siblings (n = 70). Group means of HRQoL (SF-36) were compared between YA ALL survivors and the siblings, as well as to normative values from the general population. Self-efficacy (GSES) and social support (SS-13 subscale AVSI) was considering potential buffering factors for HRQoL and mental health. Associations between HRQoL and mental health respectively and self-efficacy and social support was analyzed.

Results: The YA ALL survivors scored significantly lower on the HRQoL parameters general health (69.6 vs. 78.4, p = 0.004) and role emotional (77.1 vs. 88.1, p = 0.014), than the siblings. Further, they reported significantly lower general health (69.6 vs. 75.8), vitality (56.9 vs. 68.8), social functioning (84.5 vs. 88.6), role emotional (77.1 vs. 85.7) and mental health (71.3 vs. 80.9) compared with Swedish norms. Both YA ALL survivors and the siblings reported lower vitality and worse mental health than the general population. The HRQoL parameters, depression, stress and anxiety were all associated with both self-efficacy and social support among the YA ALL survivors. Among the siblings however, only general health, vitality, role emotional, mental health and depression were associated with social support, and only general health and mental health were associated with general self-efficacy.

Conclusion: The results from this study show that buffering factors, like social support and self-efficacy, may play an important role for psychosocial outcomes and HRQoL among YA ALL survivors later in life. The results suggest that this group could benefit from continuous support in adult life to handle consequences of their pediatric disease.