Abstract: Psycho-educational interventions for children with chronic disease, parents and siblings: an overview of the research evidence base

Child Care Health Dev. 2004 Nov;30(6):637-45. Barlow JH, Ellard DR. Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Health, School of Health and Social Sciences, Coventry University, Coventry, UK. Abstract:

Background: The role of psycho-educational interventions in facilitating adaptation to chronic disease has received growing recognition and is in keeping with policy developments advocating greater involvement of patients in their own care. The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the current literature regarding the effectiveness of psycho-educational interventions for children and adolescents with chronic disease, their parents and siblings.

Methods: Electronic searches were conducted using AMED, CINAHL, Cochrane Database, DARE, HTA, MEDLINE, NHS EED, PsycLIT, PsycINFO, and PubMED. Inclusion criteria were systematic reviews, meta-analyses and overviews based on traditional reviews of published literature. The titles of papers were reviewed, abstracts were obtained and reviewed, and full copies of selected papers were obtained.

Results No reviews of psycho-educational interventions were found for either parents or siblings. Twelve reviews of interventions for children and adolescents were identified: chronic disease in general (three); chronic pain (one); asthma (three); chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)/myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) (one); diabetes (two); juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) (one) and one informational intervention for paediatric cancer patients. The main focus was on disease management (particularly in asthma and diabetes) with less attention being paid to psychosocial aspects of life with a chronic condition.

Overall, there is evidence of effectiveness for interventions incorporating cognitive-behavioural techniques on variables such as self-efficacy, self-management of disease, family functioning, psychosocial well-being, reduced isolation, social competence, knowledge, hope, pain (for chronic headache), lung function (asthma), days absent from school (asthma), visits to A & E (asthma), fatigue (CFS), and metabolic control (diabetes). A number of gaps and limitations were identified across all disease categories, such as inadequate description of interventions, small sample sizes, and lack of evidence regarding cost-effectiveness.

Conclusion: This overview has highlighted the need to extend the evidence base for psycho-educational interventions, particularly in a UK context. It is essential that effective interventions are implemented and embedded in service provision in order to maximize empowerment through self-care for children, adolescents and their parents. PMID: 15527474 [PubMed – in process]

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