Cognitive dysfunction is a major concern for children with brain tumors. A valid, user-friendly screening tool could facilitate prompt referral for comprehensive neuropsychological assessments and therefore early intervention. Applications of the pediatric perceived cognitive function item bank (pedsPCF) such as computerized adaptive testing can potentially serve as such a tool given its brevity and user-friendly nature. This study aimed to evaluate whether pedsPCF was a valid indicator of cerebral compromise using the criterion of structural brain changes indicated by leukoencephalopathy grades.
Data from 99 children (mean age = 12.6 years) with brain tumors and their parents were analyzed. Average time since diagnosis was 5.8 years; time since last treatment was 4.3 years. Leukoencephalopathy grade (range 0–4) was based on white matter damage and degree of deep white matter volume loss shown on MRI. Parents of patients completed the pedsPCF. Scores were based on the US general population-based T-score metric (mean = 50; SD = 10). Higher scores reflect better function.
Leukoencephalopathy grade distributions were as follows: 36 grade 0, 27 grade 1, 22 grade 2, 13 grade 3, and 1 grade 4. The mean pedsPCF T-score was 48.3 (SD = 8.3; range 30.5–63.7). The pedsPCF scores significantly discriminated patients with different leukoencephalopathy grades, F = 4.14, p = 0.0084. Effect sizes ranged from 0.09 (grade 0 vs. 1) to 1.22 (grade 0 vs. 3/4).
This study demonstrates that the pedsPCF is a valid indicator of leukoencephalopathy and provides support for its use as a screening tool for more comprehensive neurocognitive testing.