Quarterly scientific journal

The crisis in the chronic physical illness of the child and the adjustment difficulties of its family

Chrysa Valamoutopoulou , Maria Valamoutopoulou

Abstract

Chronic physical illness burdens children and their families with organic and functional problems, repeated medical visits, complicated tests, frequent hospitalizations, uncertainty about the future and complex secondary psychological, social and educational problems. Purpose: The purpose of the present study was the presentation and the critical approach to the adjustment difficulties of a child with chronic disease (7-11 years) and of its family as recorded in Greece and internationally. Material and Methods: In this review, the methodology followed included specialized electronic search of articles in PubMed, in international and Greek biomedical journals that explore the process of adaptation of children to chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes, thalassemia, cardiovascular diseases and neoplasms using special keywords e.g. chronic physical illness, chronic disease and family, child and chronic disease. There were 29 foreign articles and 16 greek ones during the last fifteen years. Results: Children with chronic physical diseases face psycho-emotional difficulties (depression, increased anxiety), behavioural disorders (hyperactivity, social isolation) and learning difficulties. Their families are equally affected by chronic disease on multiple levels as their cohesion is disrupted as well as the emotional relationships between them, the roles they should adopt towards the new situation (difficulties between the couple and the siblings). This situation in Greece highlights major problems and failures that require immediate attention (on grants and donations to associations, insurance providers, staffing and operation of hospital units, public awareness, etc.) Conclusions: The comprehensive treatment of the effects of chronic physical illness, both medical and psychosocial in level, requires the provision of comprehensive care through coordinated medical, psychological, educational and social services.

Keywords: Child and chronic physical illness, adjustment difficulties, family illness and Greece, hospitalization and Greece

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