Quality of Life of Parents and Siblings of Children with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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Abstract

Background:

Few investigators have reported on the quality of life of family members of children with inflammatory bowel disease. Psychological symptoms have been reported in parents and siblings, but the problems that which give rise to these symptoms are seldom examined. In this pilot study, some of the issues that affect the quality of life of parents and siblings of children with inflammatory bowel disease were examined.

Methods:

Focus group meetings were held separately with 20 parents and 7 siblings of children with inflammatory bowel disease. The participants were encouraged to identify voluntarily problems related to the disease that affected their lives, and the discussions were taped recorded. Each participants subsequently wrote down the three most important concerns.

Results:

Thirteen (65%) parents were very concerned about the effect of the disease on the child's future (jobs, marriage, independence) and 11 (55%) were worried about problems the ill child was encountering at school. Other issues of most concern to parents included side effects of medication (n = 7), limited job prospects (n = 3), persistent feelings of guilt (n = 3), and restricted family lifestyle (n = 1). Most siblings (57%) were concerned about their parents' keeping information about the illness from them, and three (43%) of them were also concerned about others bullying the ill child at school. Other issues of concern to siblings included fear about the disease and treatment (n = 3), parents overprotecting the ill child, and feelings of jealousy (n = 1).

Conclusion:

Families of children with inflammatory bowel disease experience many problems that may affect their quality of life. Resources should be made available to help families with these concerns.

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