The Effect of Clown Intervention on Self-Report and Biomarker Measures of Stress and Fatigue in Pediatric Osteosarcoma Inpatients: A Pilot Study

Luis C. Lopes-Júnior, Gabriela Pereira-da-Silva, Denise S. C. Silveira, Luciana C. Veronez, Jéssica C. Santos, Jonas B. Alonso, Regina A. G. Lima
  • Integrative Cancer Therapies, June 2018, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/1534735418781725

The Effect of Clown Intervention on Self-Report and Biomarker in Pediatric Osteosarcoma Inpatients

What is it about?

Pediatric cancer patients experience different psychological processes during hospitalization that may regulate the immune response and affect recovery and response to cancer treatment. In this study, we aimed to examine the feasibility of longitudinal testing of psychophysiological parameters of stress and fatigue in pediatric osteosarcoma patients hospitalized for chemotherapy submitted to clown intervention; and to investigate whether changes in the levels of biomarkers are associated with psychological stress and fatigue levels in these patients after the clown intervention.

Why is it important?

A pretest-posttest quasi-experimental pilot study was conducted at the pediatric oncology inpatient unit in a comprehensive cancer care center in Brazil including children and adolescents with osteosarcoma hospitalized for chemotherapy. Eight saliva samples were collected, comprising 4 at baseline (pre-intervention) and 4 after the clown intervention (+1, +4, +9, and +13 hours post-awakening). Salivary cortisol, α-amylase (sAA), cytokines, and matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) levels were determined using high-sensitivity enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kits. Stress and fatigue were measured by Child Stress Scale–ESI and PedsQL Multidimensional Fatigue Scale respectively. Bivariate association analysis between stress and fatigue scores and biomarker levels were investigated using nonparametric statistics. Effect sizes were calculated for each outcome variable. Six pediatric osteosarcoma patients were enrolled with no missing data. No significant effects sizes were observed for psychophysiological outcomes. Effect sizes ranged from 0.54 (cortisol) to 0 (interleukin-1β [IL-1β]). Decreasing overall trends were observed for cortisol levels for all 6 pediatric osteosarcoma patients over time. In addition, a similar pattern of tumor necrosis factor–α (TNF-α) levels over time was found for all 6 patients. Patients with metastatic osteosarcoma showed a linear trend for a decrease in MMP-9 levels between 1 and 9 hours after the clown intervention and restoration to basal levels after 13 hours.


Dr Luís Carlos Lopes-Júnior (Author)
Federal University of São Carlos - UFSCar

The results of this pilot study suggest that it is feasible longitudinally measure psychophysiological outcomes in the pediatric osteosarcoma inpatients for chemotherapy. Clown intervention merits further study as a way to reduce stress as well as fatigue, since that the stress and cytokines measurements are feasible based on our work.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Luís Carlos Lopes-Júnior