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Long-term psychological distress, and styles of coping, in parents of children and adolescents who underwent invasive treatment for congenital cardiac disease

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 October 2007

Alinda W. Spijkerboer
Affiliation:
Departments of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands Paediatric Cardiology, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Willem A. Helbing
Affiliation:
Paediatric Cardiology, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Ad J.J.C. Bogers
Affiliation:
Cardiothoracic Surgery and, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Ron T. Van Domburg
Affiliation:
Cardiology, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Frank C. Verhulst
Affiliation:
Departments of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Elisabeth M.W.J. Utens*
Affiliation:
Departments of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
*
Correspondence to: Elisabeth Utens, Erasmus MC – Sophia Children’s Hospital, Department of Chid & Adolescent Psychiatry, P.O. Box 2060, 3000 CB Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Tel: +31 10 463 6671; Fax: +31 10 463 6803; E-mail: e.utens@erasmusmc.nl

Abstract

Objective

To assess the level of psychological distress and styles of coping in both mothers and fathers of children who underwent invasive treatment for congenital cardiac disease at least 7 years and 6 months ago.

Methods

The General Health Questionnaire and the Utrecht Coping List were completed by parents of children with 4 different cardiac diagnoses.

Results

Overall, in comparison with reference groups, parents of children treated for congenital heart disease showed lower levels of distress, manifested as lower levels of somatic symptoms, anxiety and sleeplessness and serious depression. Mothers of children with congenital heart disease reported significantly more somatic symptoms than fathers.

Further, compared to reference groups more favourable outcomes on coping were found; parents in our sample showed a weaker tendency to use styles of coping such as reassuring thoughts and less often expressed negative emotions (anger, annoyance). Mothers in our sample appeared to seek social support more often compared to fathers.

Conclusion

Overall, lower levels of psychological distress and few differences in styles of coping compared to reference groups were found in parents of children treated for congenital heart disease. We need to remain alert however, for individual parents at risk of adjusting poorly.

Type
Original Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2007

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Long-term psychological distress, and styles of coping, in parents of children and adolescents who underwent invasive treatment for congenital cardiac disease
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