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Can National Tests from the Last Year of Compulsory School Be Used to Obtain More Detailed Information about Academic Performance in Children Treated for Brain Tumours? A Nationwide, Population-Based Study from Sweden

Authors
  • Lönnerblad, Malin
  • Berglund, Eva
  • van’t Hooft, Ingrid
  • Blomgren, Klas1
  • 1 Paediatric Oncology, Karolinska University Hospital, J9:30, 171 64 Stockholm, Sweden
Type
Published Article
Journal
Cancers
Publisher
MDPI AG
Publication Date
Jan 04, 2021
Volume
13
Issue
1
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3390/cancers13010135
PMID: 33406638
PMCID: PMC7795235
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

Simple Summary Children treated for brain tumours often suffer from late-appearing complications, including impaired cognitive performance. In this study, 475 Swedish children diagnosed with a brain tumour before their 15th birthday and 2197 matched controls were included. Data from compulsory national tests performed school year nine in the first foreign language English, the mother tongue Swedish and mathematics were analysed. These tests offered more detailed information on academic strengths and weaknesses than the final grades, as different skill sets were assessed. Cases performed worse than controls in English tests than in Swedish and mathematics tests, and they may have performed better in oral than written tasks. There were larger differences between girls treated for brain tumours and their female controls than between boys treated for brain tumours and their male controls. National tests may be useful to complement neuropsychological follow-ups. Characterising these shortcomings is essential to provide appropriate support and prevent social isolation. Abstract Children treated for brain tumours often have late-appearing complications that may affect their school performance. Uneven skill profiles may help reveal late complications that can be compensated for but otherwise remain undetected. We investigated Swedish national school tests of oral, reading and writing skills in the first foreign language (English), the mother tongue (Swedish) and mathematics. Data were obtained from The Swedish Childhood Cancer Registry and Statistics Sweden. The results from 475 children diagnosed with a brain tumour before their 15th birthday and 2197 matched controls showed that children treated for brain tumours evinced more difficulties with national tests than controls in almost all subtests, especially in the subject English, and that they may perform better on oral than written tasks. There were larger differences between female cases and controls than between male cases and controls; age at diagnosis played a significant role for some subtests, whereas tumour grade did not. Missing information from national tests proved to be a strong predictor of poor academic performance. Our results show that regular educational follow-ups, as a complement to neuropsychological follow-ups, are important for all children treated for brain tumours, regardless of sex, age at diagnosis or tumour grade.

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