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Camp War Buddies: Exploring the Therapeutic Benefits of Social Comparison in a Pediatric Oncology Camp

Shay Dawson, Doug Knapp, James Farmer


Cancer survival rates for youth have improved by 20%-30% in the past two decades, resulting in a greater need for therapeutic interventions that address the resulting psychosocial needs of patients post traditional medical treatment (Greenlee, Murray, Bolden, & Windgo, 2000). The purpose of this study was to measure the effect of attendance at a pediatric oncology camp designed to support the psychosocial needs of youth 8-18 years of age. Campers attending the oncology camp from Sunday through Friday were given a 12-item evaluation at the beginning of the week (pretest) and again at the end of the week (posttest) to gather quantitative data on independence, social skills, and self-esteem. A threemonth follow-up telephone interview was conducted to generate qualitative emerging themes. Findings suggest that campers had statistically significant improvements in self-esteem while emergent themes included a supportive community, normalizing experience, positive recollection of their camp experience and memories of specific activities. Social comparison theory is the foundation of the study and provides a framework for interpreting the results.

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