Chronic illness in childhood: psychosocial adaptation and nursing support for the child and family

Chronic illness in childhood is discussed with particular reference to the nurses’ role. Both the child and the parents need to adapt to the situation from its early stages. The nursing personnel should be able to help and alleviate not only the physical problems, but also the psychological consequences to the child, as well as reducing the parents’ stress and their possibly overprotective attitude towards the child. Also, the child should not be treated with derision or his condition down rated, especially when the disorder is hereditary. The role of the health care team is at its most beneficial when it can identify stress factors and help the child and family adopt constructive ways and methods to face them. The most suitable phase for this psychological and nursing intervention is during the initial stages as soon as possible after the diagnosis. Without nursing support, a family can find itself in crisis and its members may try inappropriate methods of coping which can be detrimental to the short or long‐term adaptation to the child’s illness. However, even if an early phase nursing intervention is missed, later support can still be of enormous value.

Author(s): Theofanidis Dimitrios

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