Study: Children with chronic illness just as happy as peers
MelissaJenco, News Content Editor
Children with a chronic illness often lead lives that are just as happy as those of
healthier peers, according to a new study.
Medical advancements may mean children with chronic conditions live longer, prompting
researchers to look at their overall health status and their satisfaction with life.
They analyzed data from the National Institutes of Health’s Patient-Reported Outcomes
Measurement Information System in which caregivers answered questions about 1,253
children ages 5-9.
As researches predicted, children with a chronic illness also tended to have worse
overall health. Those with the worst general health were boys, Hispanic children and
children from single-parent households. Increased stress was linked to worse health,
while having a high-income family was associated with better health.
Parents’ perceptions of their children’s happiness and life satisfaction were similar
regardless of whether their child had a chronic illness, the study found. As with
overall health, stress was linked to lower satisfaction, and high-income families
were linked to higher satisfaction.
"The current study suggests that having a chronic illness is certainly a health challenge
(evidenced by lower parent-reported general health) but does not preclude these children
from having happy and satisfying lives that are comparable with those of peers without
illness,” authors wrote.
They attributed the life satisfaction of children with a chronic illness to “positive
health assets,” which “strengthen one’s capabilities to adapt to environmental challenges,
satisfy needs, and attain goals, which enable well-being.”
“Overall, this work highlights clinical opportunities to broaden the perspective of
health beyond the absence of disease to one in which all children, regardless of illness
or impairment, can have well-being,” authors said.
They called for future research with a nationally representative sample and analysis
of the impact of specific illnesses.