Children with cancer are faced with unique physical and psychosocial challenges, which may result in decreased quality of life. A cancer diagnosis affects the entire family, and siblings in particular are at increased psychological risk. A growing amount of literature has documented positive outcomes associated with camp attendance for both children with cancer and their siblings. This study uses archival data from Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times collected by Wellisch et al. (2006), and examines the relationship between summer camp attendance and self-esteem and internalizing and externalizing behaviors among cancer patients and siblings. Sixty-four (64) pediatric cancer patients and their siblings (patients = 30; siblings = 34) ranging from 7 to 18 years (M = 11.84; SD = 2.89) who attended a weeklong oncology camp completed the study. Data was collected prior to camp (Baseline), at the end of camp (Follow-up 1), and again 4–6 months later (Follow-up 2). Measures included the Children’s Depression Inventory, a self-report measure that screens for depressive symptoms; the Social Adjustment and Competence Domain from the Youth Self Report, a measure that examines perceived social support; and a socio-demographic survey. Using repeated measures MANOVAs, we found no significant changes in level of self-esteem or externalizing behaviors over time. We did, however, observe a statistically significant change in levels of internalizing behaviors over time when considering the entire sample and when looking at patients versus siblings. Results showed a statistically significant reduction in levels of internalizing behaviors over time, when considering the entire sample. When examining patients versus siblings, we also found statistically significant differences in internalizing behaviors over time. While patients reported a marked decrease in internalizing symptoms, siblings’ symptoms remained fairly consistent over time. While the researchers hypothesized that the camp intervention would result in increased self-esteem and decreased externalizing behaviors, results did not reveal significant findings. Implications for future research as well as strengths and limitations of this study are discussed.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (PsyD) -- Psychology; Cancer in children -- Patients -- Family relationships; Cancer in children -- Patients -- Psychological aspects; Camps for terminally ill children -- Case studies

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

de Mayo, Robert R.;