Publications by authors named "Karen Martin-Elbahesh"

8 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Social Functioning of Childhood Cancer Survivors after Computerized Cognitive Training: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

Children (Basel) 2019 Sep 27;6(10). Epub 2019 Sep 27.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN 38105, USA.

Childhood cancer survivors are at risk for cognitive and social deficits. Previous findings indicate computerized cognitive training can result in an improvement of cognitive skills. The current objective was to investigate whether these cognitive gains generalize to social functioning benefits. Sixty-eight survivors of childhood cancer were randomly assigned to a computerized cognitive intervention (mean age 12.21 ± 2.47 years, 4.97 ± 3.02 years off-treatment) or waitlist control group (mean age 11.82 ± 2.42 years, 5.04 ± 2.41 years off-treatment). Conners 3 Parent and Self-Report forms were completed pre-intervention, immediately post-intervention and six-months post-intervention. Piecewise linear mixed-effects models indicated no significant differences in Peer Relations between groups at baseline and no difference in change between groups from pre- to immediate post-intervention or post- to six-months post-intervention ( > 0.40). Baseline Family Relations problems were significantly elevated in the control group relative to the intervention group ( < 0.01), with a significantly greater decline from pre- to immediate post-intervention ( < 0.05) and no difference in change between groups from post- to six-months post-intervention ( > 0.80). The study results suggest cognitive gains from computerized training do not generalize to social functioning. Training focused on skill-based social processing (e.g., affect recognition) may be more efficacious.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/children6100105DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6826733PMC
September 2019

Returning research results: caregivers' reactions following computerized cognitive training among childhood cancer survivors.

Neurooncol Pract 2018 Aug 19;5(3):194-200. Epub 2017 Nov 19.

Department of Psychology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis TN, USA.

Background: Few researchers routinely disseminate results to participants; however, there is increasing acknowledgment that benefits of returning results outweigh potential risks. Our objective was to determine whether use of specific guidelines developed by the Children's Oncology Group (COG) when preparing a lay summary would aid in understanding results. Specifically, to determine if caregivers of childhood cancer survivors found a lay summary comprehensive, easy to understand, and helpful following participation in a computerized cognitive training program.

Methods: In a previous study, 68 childhood survivors of acute lymphoblastic leukemia or brain tumor with identified cognitive deficits were randomly assigned to participate in a computerized cognitive intervention or assigned to a wait list. Following conclusion of this study, participants' caregivers were contacted and provided with a summary of results based on COG guidelines and survey. Forty-three participants returned the surveys, examining caregivers' interpretation of the summary, reaction to the results, and information regarding preference for receiving results.

Results: Caregivers reported results as important (93%), helpful (93%), easy to understand (98%), and relevant to their child (91%). They interpreted the results as generally positive, with many caregivers endorsing satisfaction (84%); however, concern of long-term implications was expressed (25%). Most preferred receiving results through postal letter (88%) or email (47%).

Conclusions: Benefits of returning research results to families appear to outweigh potential negative consequences. Returning results may help inform families when making future health care-related decisions. There is a great need to develop and assess the utility of guidelines for returning research results.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/nop/npx029DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6075540PMC
August 2018

Disseminability of computerized cognitive training: Performance across coaches.

Appl Neuropsychol Child 2019 Apr-Jun;8(2):113-122. Epub 2017 Nov 21.

b Department of Psychology , St. Jude Children's Research Hospital , Memphis , Tennessee.

Cogmed is a computerized cognitive intervention utilizing coaches who receive standardized instruction in analyzing training indices and tailoring feedback to remotely monitor participant's performance. The goal of this study was to examine adherence, satisfaction, and efficacy of Cogmed across coaches. Survivors of pediatric brain tumors and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (N = 68) were randomized to intervention (Cogmed) or waitlist control. The intervention group was matched with one of two coaches. Cognitive assessments were completed before and after intervention, and participants and caregivers in the intervention group completed satisfaction surveys. T-tests showed no differences in adherence across coaches (number of sessions completed p = .38; d = .32). Noninferiority statistics were not consistently equivalent for satisfaction, but equivalence was supported for caregiver perceptions of pragmatic utility and participant perceptions of logistical ease of Cogmed. Equivalence was not consistently suggested for cognitive outcomes, but was supported on measures tapping relevant cognitive domains (attention, working memory, processing speed, academic fluency). This study suggests adherence can be maintained across coaches. While aspects of satisfaction and cognitive outcomes were equivalent, the possible influence of coach-based variables cannot be ruled out. Findings highlight challenges in standardizing the coaching component of multicomponent computerized interventions and the need for ongoing research to establish dessiminability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21622965.2017.1394853DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5962364PMC
September 2019

Cancer as a stressful life event: Perceptions of children with cancer and their peers.

Cancer 2017 Sep 4;123(17):3385-3393. Epub 2017 May 4.

Department of Psychology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee.

Background: The medical traumatic stress model is commonly applied to childhood cancer, assuming that the diagnosis of cancer is a traumatic event. However, to the authors' knowledge, little is known regarding what specifically children perceive as stressful about cancer or how it compares with other stressful events more often experienced by children.

Methods: Children with cancer (254 children) and demographically similar peers without a history of serious illness (202 children) identified their most stressful life event as part of a diagnostic interview assessing for symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The events identified as most stressful were categorized thematically, with categories established separately for cancer-related and non-cancer-related events. Events also were examined to assess whether they met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) A criteria for PTSD.

Results: In the group of children with cancer, 54% described a cancer-related event as the most stressful event they had experienced. Six distinct categories of cancer-related events and 10 categories of non-cancer-related events were identified. The same noncancer events were identified by children in both groups, and occurred at similar frequencies. The percentage of cancer-related events that met DSM A criteria for PTSD differed dramatically depending on which version of the DSM was applied.

Conclusions: Children do not necessarily view their cancer experience as their most stressful life event. The findings of the current study suggest that the diagnosis of cancer might be better viewed as a manageable stressor rather than a major trauma, and are consistent with the change in the fifth edition of the DSM to eliminate the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness as a qualifying trauma for PTSD. Cancer 2017;123:3385-93. © 2017 American Cancer Society.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.30741DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5637275PMC
September 2017

Long-Term Efficacy of Computerized Cognitive Training Among Survivors of Childhood Cancer: A Single-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial.

J Pediatr Psychol 2017 Mar;42(2):220-231

Department of Biostatistics, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN, USA.

Objective: To investigate the long-term efficacy of computerized cognitive training in improving cognitive outcomes among childhood cancer survivors.

Methods: Sixty-eight survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) or brain tumor (BT) were randomly assigned to computerized cognitive intervention (23 ALL/11 BT, age = 12.21 ± 2.47) or a waitlist control group (24 ALL/10 BT, age = 11.82 ± 2.42). Cognitive assessments were completed pre-, immediately post-, and 6 months postintervention.

Results: A prior report showed training led to immediate improvement in working memory, attention and processing speed. In the current study, piecewise linear mixed effects modeling revealed that working memory and processing speed were unchanged from immediate to 6 months postintervention (intervention β  = -.04 to .01, p = .26 to .95; control β  = -.06 to .01, p = .23-.97), but group differences on an attention measure did not persist.

Conclusion: Cognitive benefits are maintained 6 months following computerized cognitive training, adding to potential clinical utility of this intervention approach.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jpepsy/jsw057DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5896595PMC
March 2017

Feasibility and acceptability of a remotely administered computerized intervention to address cognitive late effects among childhood cancer survivors.

Neurooncol Pract 2015 Jun 13;2(2):78-87. Epub 2015 Mar 13.

Department of Psychology , St Jude Children's Research Hospital , Memphis, Tennessee (L.E.C., J.M.A., K.N.C., K.M-E., V.W.W., H.M.C.); Division of Radiation Oncology , St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee (T.E.M.); Division of Translational Imaging Research , St Jude Children's Research Hospital , Memphis, Tennessee (R.J.O.); Department of Oncology , St Jude Children's Research Hospital , Memphis, Tennessee (S.J.); Department of Biostatistics , St Jude Children's Research Hospital , Memphis, Tennessee (L.H., H.Z.); Center for Neuroscience and Behavioral Medicine , Neuropsychology Division, Children's National Medical Center , Washington, DC (K.K.H.); Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science , George Washington University School of Medicine , Washington, DC (K.K.H).

Background: Childhood cancer survivors frequently develop working memory (WM) deficits as a result of disease and treatment. Medication-based and therapist-delivered interventions are promising but have limitations. Computerized interventions completed at home may be more appealing for survivors. We evaluated the feasibility and acceptability of a remotely administered, computerized WM intervention (Cogmed) for pediatric cancer survivors using a single-blind, randomized, wait-list control design.

Methods: Of 80 qualifying patients, 12 were excluded or declined to participate. Participants randomized to intervention ( = 34/68) included survivors of childhood brain tumors (32%) or acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL; 68%) between the ages of 8 and 16 years ([Formula: see text] = 12.2) who were at least 1 year post therapy ([Formula: see text] = 5.0). The majority of brain tumor participants were treated with cranial radiation therapy (72.7%), whereas most of the ALL participants were treated with chemotherapy only (87%). Participants completed 25 WM training sessions over 5-9 weeks at home with weekly phone-based coaching.

Results: Participants lived in 16 states. Compliance was strong, with 30 of the 34 participants (88%) completing intervention. Almost all participants completed pre- and postintervention neuroimaging exams (91% and 93%, respectively). Families had the necessary skills to utilize the computer program successfully. Caregivers reported they were generally able to find time to complete training (63%), viewed training as beneficial (70%), and would recommend this intervention to others (93%).

Conclusions: Cogmed is a feasible and acceptable intervention for childhood cancer survivors. It is a viable option for survivors who do not live in close proximity to cancer care centers. Efficacy and neural correlates of change are currently being evaluated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/nop/npu036DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4820841PMC
June 2015

Sleepiness, Fatigue, Behavioral Functioning, and Quality of Life in Survivors of Childhood Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant.

J Pediatr Psychol 2016 Jul 16;41(6):600-9. Epub 2016 Mar 16.

Department of Psychology and

Objectives: To examine subjective fatigue and sleepiness as predictors of functional outcomes in long-term pediatric hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) survivors.

Methods: Participants included 76 survivors assessed 5-14 years post-HSCT. Self-report and parent-proxy (i.e., N = 38) measures of fatigue, excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), emotional and behavioral functioning, executive functioning, and quality of life (QOL) were completed. Health-related correlates were obtained from medical records.

Results: Survivors exhibited significant fatigue for self (M = 69.21 ± 20.14) and parent-proxy (M = 72.15 ± 20.79) report. EDS was endorsed for 20-33% of survivors, depending on the respondent. EDS was not significant for parent-proxy outcomes, but was associated with poorer self-reported QOL and internalizing problems (p < .0016). Fatigue was associated with poorer functioning across all domains (p's < .0016).

Conclusions: A substantial number of pediatric HSCT survivors exhibit sleepiness and fatigue. Fatigue is associated with statistically and clinically greater functional difficulties, highlighting the importance of examining sleep and fatigue and considering interventions to improve alertness.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jpepsy/jsw011DOI Listing
July 2016

Computerized Cognitive Training for Amelioration of Cognitive Late Effects Among Childhood Cancer Survivors: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

J Clin Oncol 2015 Nov 12;33(33):3894-902. Epub 2015 Oct 12.

Heather M. Conklin, Robert J. Ogg, Jason M. Ashford, Matthew A. Scoggins, Ping Zou, Kellie N. Clark, Karen Martin-Elbahesh, Thomas E. Merchant, Sima Jeha, Lu Huang, and Hui Zhang, St Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN; and Kristina K. Hardy, Children's National Medical Center and George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC.

Purpose: Children receiving CNS-directed therapy for cancer are at risk for cognitive problems, with few available empirically supported interventions. Cognitive problems indicate neurodevelopmental disruption that may be modifiable with intervention. This study evaluated short-term efficacy of a computerized cognitive training program and neural correlates of cognitive change.

Patient And Methods: A total of 68 survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) or brain tumor (BT) with identified cognitive deficits were randomly assigned to computerized cognitive intervention (male, n = 18; female, n = 16; ALL, n = 23; BT, n = 11; mean age ± standard deviation, 12.21 ± 2.47 years) or waitlist (male, n = 18; female, n = 16; ALL, n = 24; BT, n = 10; median age ± standard deviation, 11.82 ± 2.42 years). Intervention participants were asked to complete 25 training sessions at home with weekly, telephone-based coaching. Cognitive assessments and functional magnetic resonance imaging scans (intervention group) were completed pre- and postintervention, with immediate change in spatial span backward as the primary outcome.

Results: Survivors completing the intervention (n = 30; 88%) demonstrated greater improvement than controls on measures of working memory (mean ± SEM; eg, Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children [fourth edition; WISC-IV] spatial span backward, 3.13 ± 0.58 v 0.75 ± 0.43; P = .002; effect size [ES], 0.84), attention (eg, WISC-IV spatial span forward, 3.30 ± 0.71 v 1.25 ± 0.39; P = .01; ES, 0.65), and processing speed (eg, Conners' Continuous Performance Test hit reaction time, -2.10 ± 1.47 v 2.54 ± 1.25; P = .02; ES, .61) and showed greater reductions in reported executive dysfunction (eg, Conners' Parent Rating Scale III, -6.73 ± 1.51 v 0.41 ± 1.53; P = .002; ES, 0.84). Functional magnetic resonance imaging revealed significant pre- to post-training reduction in activation of left lateral prefrontal and bilateral medial frontal areas.

Conclusion: Study findings show computerized cognitive training is feasible and efficacious for childhood cancer survivors, with evidence for training-related neuroplasticity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1200/JCO.2015.61.6672DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4652013PMC
November 2015