Children's memories for painful cancer treatment procedures: Implications for distress

Edith Chen*, Lonnie K. Zeltzer, Michelle G. Craske, Ernest R. Katz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

172 Scopus citations


Children (ages 3 to 18, N = 55) diagnosed with leukemia were tested for their memories of lumbar punctures (LPs), a repeated and painful part of the cancer treatment protocol. Memory for both event details and the child's emotional responses was assessed one week after the LP. Children of all ages displayed considerable accuracy for event details, and accuracy increased with age. Overall recall accuracy for event details and emotional responses was similar. Recall among children given oral Versed was similar to that among children not given Versed. Finally, higher distress predicted greater exaggerations in negative memory 1 week later (although controlling for age weakened this relationship); moreover, greater exaggerations in negative memory predicted higher distress at a subsequent LP. These results indicate that children's memories play an important role in their experience of distress during repeated stressful events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)933-947
Number of pages15
JournalChild development
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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