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Pediatric Psychology

Pediatric Psychology is a field of science and practice in which the principles of psychology are applied to pediatric health issues. Our faculty focus on evidence-based methods to promote the physical and psychological health of children, adolescents, and their families.

The Pediatric Psychology program in the Stead Family Department of Pediatrics has an established history of clinical service, scholarship, and education.

Clinical services provided within Pediatric Psychology include evaluation and brief therapy for health-related adjustment for a wide range of chronic health conditions, applied behavior analysis and treatment, and neuropsychological assessment. We work collaboratively with interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary teams. Our outpatient clinical services include:

Health Psychology and Pain Services

  • Screening for mental health issues related to chronic health conditions across pediatric subspecialities, including:
    • Allergy/immunology (e.g., food allergies)
    • Cardiology (e.g., congenital heart disease)
    • Endocrinology (e.g., diabetes, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)
    • Hematology (e.g., Sickle Cell)
    • Gastroenterology (e.g., celiac, Irritable Bowel Disorder)
    • LGBTQ+ gender health
    • Nephrology (e.g., chronic kidney disease)
    • Neurology (e.g., headaches, epilepsy)
    • Oncology (e.g., cancer, bone marrow transplant)
    • Pulmonology (e.g., Cystic Fibrosis)
  • Screening for mental health issues related to chronic pain through the Pediatric Comprehensive Pain, Multidisciplinary Headache, and Abdominal Pain Clinics
  • Outpatient intervention for patients adjusting to new medical diagnosis or coping with illness, chronic pain and mental health symptoms or psychosocial stressors associated with chronic illness

Neuropsychological Services

  • Evaluations for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and earning disorders that can affect organization, learning, socialization, behavioral health, and well-being
  • Neurocognitive evaluations for children with medical conditions, such as cancer, seizures, renal disease, stroke

Behavior Services

  • Evaluation and recommendations for general noncompliance or noncompliance with medical devices, tantrums, disruptive behavior, self-injury, aggression, pica, bedtime/sleep difficulties, separation anxiety, social phobias, toileting fears
  • Evaluation and treatment for habits such as skin picking, vocal and motor tics, rumination, nail biting, thumb sucking

Feeding Difficulties and Oral Aversion Services

  • Evaluation for patients with concerns for growth and feeding problems with and without G-tube or NG-tube, severe pickiness (Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder)
  • Brief and intensive therapy to improve oral intake

Research in Pediatric Psychology

Innovative and collaborative research occurs to advance knowledge in the areas of development, behaviors, and health. Current research activities include:

  • Assessment and treatment of challenging behavior displayed by children with developmental disabilities (e.g. autism, ADHD, intellectual disabilities, speech delays, genetic syndromes)
    • Changes in brain activity across assessment and treatment of challenging behavior
    • Effectiveness of telehealth as a service modality
    • Effects of stimulant medications on challenging behavior
    • Long-term maintenance of treatment effects (i.e. reductions in challenging behavior, persistence of communication)
  • Behavioral conditions
    • Autism
    • ADHD
    • Behavioral persistence/maintenance
    • Changes in brain activity during disruptive behavior
    • Telehealth
  • Neurodevelopment of children and adolescents with various medical conditions
    • Cancer
    • Cleft lip and palate
    • Kidney transplant
    • Huntington’s disease
    • Prematurity
  • Racial health care disparities
Funding Sources
  • Hawk-IDDRC
  • Iowa Neuroscience Institute
  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
  • National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
  • ​National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute (NHLBI)
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke (NINDS)​

Education in Pediatric Psychology

Education occurs within formal training programs, clinical settings and the context of research. We teach graduate and medical students, residents, medical and psychology fellows. We are also dedicated to education of patients, families, and community members.