Different Aspects of Psychological Ill Health in a National Sample of Swedish Parents after Successful Paediatric Stem Cell Transplantation

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Abstract

Background:

Paediatric hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) may have great psychological impact on parents during the intense treatment period as well as many years after a successful transplantation. Since different psychological disorders require different interventions, a differentiation of general distress into specific types of psychological ill health is essential. The aim of this descriptive study was to distinguish anxiety, depression, and burnout, and investigate occurrence and co-occurrence of these in a national Swedish sample of parents of children who had undergone HSCT and survived.

Procedure:

Established self-report instruments (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, posttraumatic stress checklist, and Shirom–Melamed Burnout Questionnaire) were used to assess parents' subjective suffering. Inclusion criteria: the child had to be alive; ≤18 years of age; >6 months since HSCT.

Results:

Four hundred twenty-one eligible parents (220 mothers and 201 fathers) were identified, of whom 284 choose to participate (response rate 67%). In total, 134 parents (87 mothers, 47 fathers) reported clinically relevant levels of one or more of the assessed types of psychological ill health, representing 48% of the responding participants and 32% of the entire national population of parents of children who had undergone HSCT and survived. Anxiety and/or burnout were reported most frequently. A majority reported more than one type of psychological ill health. Depression only was rare.

Conclusions:

The findings underscore the importance of recognizing—in research as well as in clinical practice—that different types of psychological ill health may affect parents after successful HSCT. When parents present with psychological suffering, a referral for qualified assessment is warranted to obtain the proper treatment.

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