Introduction Children with serious illnesses, including children with brain tumors (CBT), have better psychosocial outcomes than their peers when they are able to resume normal activities. The primary purpose of this study was to quantitatively define utilization of medical support by CBT at a 10-day Barretstown camp session. The secondary purpose was to qualitatively define the medical needs of CBT at camp.
Materials and Methods The study population consisted of 163 CBT and 2,110 other children with cancer or hematologic disease attending Barretstown Gang Camp between 1998 and 2001. The visit frequency to the on-site medical facility (MedShed) was compared between the CBT and non-CBT group.
Results The most frequent diagnosis among the 2,273 campers was acute lymphoblastic leukemia, followed by sarcoma. Of the 163 CBT, the most frequent diagnoses were medulloblastoma/PNET (63), brain tumor type not specified (26), low-grade glioma (15), craniopharyngioma (15), and astrocytoma (14). Mean age was 12 years old (range 7-17). 72% of CBT were not on active chemotherapy or hormone therapy. CBT had a mean of 2 MedShed visits, while non-CBT had a mean of 3 medShed visits (p < .007). The most common complaint was “other” (which included rashes, orthopedic problems, muscle strains, nausea or vomiting, sleep problems, or being tired), followed by cuts/bruises/trauma and headache. The vast majority of MedShed visits by CBT were non-disease related (93%). 10/84 miscellaneous complaints were disease or treatment related, with 8/10 requiring specific therapies. No headache or bleeding was disease-related. No CBT required any intravenous therapy or transfer to a hospital compared to 10 non-CBT.
Conclusions Our findings suggest that CBT can safely participate in a physically challenging, well-staffed summer camp program.
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