Assessment of Quality of Life in the Younger Child: The Use of an Animated Computer Program

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In the past, quality of life was primarily assessed using objective measurements of the condition of the patient. Today, most quality-of-life measurements include several aspects regarding the patient's opinions and feelings. There has been an extensive development of quality-of-life instruments particularly in adults, including those for people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, only a few instruments, mostly questionnaires, have been developed for the pediatric population. It has been noted, even in young patients with IBD, that there is reduced self-esteem and more anxiety and depression. Altogether, these are important aspects for early measurement of psychosocial functioning and possibly intervention during the treatment of children with IBD.


For the current study, an instrument was developed for young children aged 5 years or more in which a computer-based animated program was used to measure quality of life in children with inflammatory bowel disease. The instrument was designed to be similar for boys and girls with no reference to racial identity. In addition, it was culturally acceptable for all Dutch children. The program was in the form of a story of a bear and a clown playing in an attic of an old house where they come across many objects with which they play and where many adventures occur. All 35 questions were interwoven in this story.


The animated computer program was well accepted and easily used by 16 children between the ages of 5 and 12 in a small pilot study. In those older than 11 years, another approach is probably necessary, using an age-appropriate animated program.


The computer program can easily be used in an outpatient setting and thus ensures that quality-of-life measurement will become a routine part of a medical visit.

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