College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Summer 8-19-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Jocelyn Smith Carter, PhD

Second Advisor

Susan Tran, PhD

Third Advisor

Ida Salusky, PhD


Executive functioning (EF) represents a set of cognitive skills that are important for daily functioning. EF can be influenced by a number of biopsychosocial factors, many of which are present in the pediatric population (i.e., youth with at least one medical condition). It is important to understand EF in this population as it affects aspects of their physical health (e.g., treatment adherence). Previous meta-analyses have been conducted to examine EF in the pediatric population, and they have generally found deficits in EF compared to healthy peers. However, these previous meta-analyses have only focused on specific medical conditions (e.g., pediatric youth with cancer). To the author’s knowledge, there has never been a meta-analysis of EF in the pediatric population more broadly. The current study serves to begin the process of closing this gap in the literature. Publications on EF in pediatric youth with a medical condition (i.e., cancer/tumor, epilepsy/seizure, or diabetes) were collected and used in a meta-analysis. Findings suggest pediatric youth have lower EF compared to healthy peers as a whole, though differences between the illness groups were noted. The epilepsy/seizure literature report the largest EF deficits across the various EF skills, and the diabetes group only showed small (though clinically and statistically significant) deficits in the domain of planning/organization. These findings provide early evidence for the benefit of considering cross-illness factors when working with pediatric youth, and suggest this area warrants further study.

SLP Collection