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Mental Disorders Common in Kids With Chronic Physical Conditions

TUESDAY, Jan. 9, 2018 -- Children with a physical condition frequently have a mental disorder, which impacts quality of life, according to a study published in the January issue of BMJ Open.

In an effort to examine the prevalence of multimorbidity (physical-mental comorbidity), Alexandra Butler, from the University of Waterloo in Canada, and colleagues conducted a prospective pilot study involving children aged 6 to 16 years diagnosed in the previous six months with asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, food allergy, or juvenile arthritis. Child mental disorders were assessed at baseline and six months using the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview.

The researchers found that the response rate was 90 percent, participation rate 83 percent, and retention rate 88 percent. The prevalence of multimorbidity was 58 percent at baseline and 42 percent at six months for the 50 children enrolled in the study. Multimorbidity at baseline correlated with decreases in physical well-being (β = −4.82), psychological well-being (β = −4.10), and school environment (β = −4.17) quality of life domains over six months. No correlation was seen with parental psychological outcomes over time.

"Preliminary evidence suggests that mental disorder in children with a physical condition is very common and has a negative impact on quality of life over time," the authors write. "Methodological and substantive findings from this pilot study have been used to implement a larger, more definitive study of child multimorbidity, which should lead to important clinical implications."

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Posted: January 2018