The difficulties that surround the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from a medical condition challenge a pediatric patient and family’s resilience. Each patient and family will cope in their own unique ways and many will cope well given the circumstances. However, some may benefit from additional support.
Partnering with parents, doctors, nurses and other members of the medical team can support patients with the Cellie Coping Kit, an evidence-based coping tool developed by researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Kentucky Children’s Hospital, The Cellie Coping Kit, designed for children aged 6–12 years and their parents, promotes coping and resilience utilizing evidence-based, cognitive-behavioral coping techniques (e.g., relaxation, social support seeking) for a range of stressors, including procedures, emotions related to the child’s medical condition, recovery and treatment, treatment side effects, and challenges related to school and peers. The Cellie Coping Kit includes:
- Cellie is a stuffed toy used for engagement. Cellie is also integrated into many of the coping tips
- Coping Cards are a set of cards that provide children with evidence-based, cognitive-behavioral coping techniques for a range of common stressors specifically related to their medical condition.
- The Caregiver Book offers strategies for parents to help children cope with their medical condition, as well as advice for dealing with parents’ own challenges (e.g., caring for siblings, working with the medical team).
What makes The Cellie Coping Kit unique?
- Addresses a broad array of medical condition challenges. The Kit identifies stressors that are specific to a medical condition and its treatment – such as chemotherapy, nausea, pain, and long hospital stays – and suggests a variety of coping tips for each stressor. The Kit has been adapted for cancer (available in English and Spanish) , sickle cell disease , injury (COMING SOON!), and food allergies (COMING SOON!).
- Easy for kids to use. Child-friendly language, artwork and go-anywhere design makes the Kit accessible to children and easy to use in any setting without the help of a behavioral health professional.
- Packed with advice. In total, the Kit includes over 150 coping strategies for children and families, with “here and now” advice for parents to use to help their children cope.
- Developed from diverse sources. The Kit provides coping strategies for children and families that come from research, advice directly from families that have faced cancer, sickle cell, injury, or food allergies, and leading experts in pediatric illness and injury.
- Customizable to every family. Families can choose the stressors that are most relevant to their experience and the coping strategies that work best for them. And children can include their own ideas on writeable coping cards.
- Can be integrated into treatment. Whether a child life specialist is demonstrating a procedure on the toy, or a psychologist is talking through stressors and coping tips with the child, the Kit can be incorporated into many elements of care.
- Encourages communication. The topics covered in the kit encourage important, productive conversations between parent and child, parent and healthcare provider, and child and healthcare provider.
How to Use Cellie Coping Kit in the Hospital
Children and families can use the Cellie Coping Kit on its own, at home, in the hospital, during a procedure and in conjunction with nurses, doctors, child life specialists, therapists, or other mental health providers.
Healthcare providers can work with children and families to generate ideas for using the Cellie Coping Kit in different situations. For example, if the family has difficulty naming stressors, prompt them with a stressor they may have already mentioned or discuss stressors commonly experienced by families undergoing treatment or recovering from an injury/ illness (such as needles or changes in appearance).
For an example of how to use the Cellie Kit with cancer patients,click here .
In a several recent published studies, children and parents found the Cellie Coping Kit easy to use, helpful, and engaging. Families reported learning new information (e.g., signs, symptoms, and progressions) and skills (e.g., implementing deep breathing) for coping with their illness, its treatment and disease management.
- Marsac, M. L., Klingbeil, O. G., Hildenbrand, A. K., Alderfer, M. A., Kassam-Adams, N., Smith-Whitley, K., & Barakat, L. P. (2014). The Cellie Coping Kit for Sickle Cell Disease: Initial acceptability and feasibility. Clinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology, 4(2), 389–399. http://doi.org/10.1037/cpp0000062
- Marsac, M.L., Hildenbrand, A., Clawson, K., Jackson, L, Kohser, K., Barakat, L, Kassam-Adams, N., Aplenc, R., Vinsel, A, Alderfer, M.A.: Preliminary data on acceptability and feasibility of the Cellie Cancer Coping Kit. Supportive Care in Cancer, 20(12):3315-3324, 2012. doi:10.1007/s00520-012-1475-y