Disparities in pediatric psychosocial oncology utilization

Daniel J. Zheng, Puja J. Umaretiya, Emily R. Schwartz, Hasan Al-Sayegh, Jean L. Raphael, Raphaële R.L. van Litsenburg, Clement Ma, Anna C. Muriel, Kira Bona

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Integratedbehavioral health models have been proposed as care delivery approaches to mitigate mental health disparities in primary care settings. However, these models have not yet been widely adopted or evaluated in pediatric oncology medical homes. Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of 394 children with newly diagnosed cancer at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center (DF/BCH) from April 2013 to January 2017. Baseline sociodemographic characteristics and psychiatry utilization outcomes at 12 months following diagnosis were abstracted from the medical record. The severity of household material hardship (HMH), a concrete poverty exposure, at diagnosis and race/ethnicity were characterized by parent report using the Psychosocial Assessment Tool 2.0 (PAT). Associations between sociodemographic characteristics and receipt of psychiatry consultation were assessed with multivariable logistic regression models. Results: Among 394 children, 29% received a psychiatric consultation within 12 months postdiagnosis. Of these, 88% received a new psychiatric diagnosis, 76% received a psychopharmacologic recommendation, and 62% received a new behavioral intervention recommendation. In multivariable logistic regression adjusting for age, cancer diagnosis, and PAT total score, there was no statistically significant association between HMH severity or household income and psychiatry utilization. Children who identified as racial/ethnic minorities were significantly less likely to receive a psychiatry consultation (OR = 0.48, 95% CI = 0.27–0.84). Conclusions: In a pediatric oncology medical home with an integrated behavioral health model, socioeconomic status was not associated with disparate psychiatry utilization. However, there remained a profound racial/ethnic disparity in psychiatry utilization, highlighting the need for additional research and care delivery intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere29342
JournalPediatric Blood and Cancer
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • health care disparities
  • health services research
  • mental health
  • minority health
  • pediatric oncology
  • psychiatry


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