Pediatric psychology is embedded into family-centered care at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. When a child has a serious or chronic illness, pediatric psychologists listen carefully and empathetically to concerns of the young patient and family while assessing their strengths, coping strategies, and goals. Pediatric psychologists also work to improve the welfare of well children in healthcare settings, and they conduct a variety of research activities, such as finding ways to increase adherence to medical treatments.
Several of CHOP’s experts in this multidisciplinary field will be sharing their insights at the Society of Pediatric Psychology Annual Conference (SPPAC) being held in Philadelphia March 27-29.
The SPPAC will introduce a fresh format for the meeting, which will attract pediatric psychologists, researchers, and other specialists who have training and experience in addressing the emotional, cognitive, and developmental needs of medically fragile children. SPPAC Chairperson Lisa Schwartz, PhD, a psychologist in CHOP’s division of oncology, has organized many of the new elements that will be integrated into the 2014 conference.
“It’s been exciting to help shape the conference and be a firsthand witness to all the innovation in the field,” said Dr. Schwartz, who will officially welcome SPPAC attendees during opening remarks March 28.
A “first” for the conference is the incorporation of a theme, “Pediatric Psychology: From Infancy to Adulthood.” Presentations will reflect a lifespan and developmental perspective that focuses on findings from early childhood to young adulthood. They also will promote the maturation of the science of pediatric psychology via technology, advanced statistical or research designs, translational science, and team science.
The conference will offer more workshops and concurrent symposia than ever before along with research blitz sessions that will cover novel and noteworthy advances, Dr. Schwartz said. Fifteen special interest group meetings will facilitate collaboration.
Dr. Schwartz is eager to hear the keynote presentation, “An Integrated Framework for Linking Exposure and Phenotypic Data in the National Children’s Study,” by Captain Steven Hirschfeld, MD, PhD, director of the National Children’s Health Study. By following 100,000 children from before birth to age 21, study researchers hope to better understand how children’s genes and their environments interact to affect their health and development. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is a site of this important study.
CHOP psychologists will present talks throughout the conference, including one that Dr. Schwartz will give March 28 on young adults’ transition to adult medical care. Dr. Schwartz highlighted a few other “not-to-miss” examples of CHOP’s contribution:
Jodi Mindell, PhD, associate director of the Sleep Center at CHOP, will be a speaker at one of the six pre-conference workshops March 27. During “Pediatric Behavioral Sleep Medicine: Tips and Tools for Practitioners,” attendees will learn about intervention strategies for a variety of sleep difficulties in pediatric patients, including insomnia, circadian rhythm disturbances, childhood fears, and non-adherence to positive airway pressure therapy.
Paul Robins, PhD, program director of pediatric psychology at CHOP, will participate March 28 in a panel discussion, “The Maturation of Pediatric Psychology Training: 2013 Society of Pediatric Psychology Task Force Recommendations.” He also is part of a symposium March 29 and will speak about, “Translating Competencies Into Practice: Internship Training in Clinical Child Psychology.”
Meghan Marsac, PhD, a CHOP clinical psychologist and behavioral researcher, is chairing a symposium, “Utilizing Web-based Programs to Promote Child Health,” March 29. She also will give a talk on the application of an internet-based game for secondary prevention of post-traumatic stress following acute medical events. Nancy Kassam-Adams, PhD, co-director of CHOP’s Center for Pediatric Traumatic Stress, will be the discussant.
SPPAC provides an ideal forum for networking and career building. Students, trainees, and early career professionals who pre-register for a mentoring lunch March 28 will have the opportunity to consult with more than 25 established investigators and clinicians from CHOP who can help them to navigate research careers in pediatric psychology.
The three-day conference will take place at the Loews Hotel in Center City Philadelphia, and it is expected to draw more than 500 researchers and practitioners from the Delaware Valley and beyond.