Behavioural, cognitive, and affective aspects of social functioning of 107 children with
a chronic illness were studied. The aim of the study was twofold: (1) to describe
peer interaction of children with a chronic illness in comparison with normative data
of healthy children; (2) to examine whether peer interaction was related to the
illness characteristics physical restrictions and pain. Peer interaction was assessed with
measures of social activities (CBCL), parent-reported social skills (CABS), child-reported
social skills (MESSY), social self-esteem (SPPC), and social anxiety (SASK). Results showed
no differences between diagnosis groups, suggesting that the social consequences of chronic
illness are not diagnosis specific. Compared with healthy norms, chronically ill children
reported less aggressive behaviour. The parent-report measures suggested a similar trend.
Children with chronic illness also tended to display more submissive behaviour than healthy
norms, as perceived by their parents. With regard to illness characteristics, both physical
restrictions and pain were associated with restricted social activities, but not with other
measures of social peer interaction. Children who display submissive behaviour and children
who are restricted in their social activities should receive extra attention because they are
especially vulnerable for problems in their social development.