Role of parents in fatigue of children with a chronic disease: a cross-sectional study.

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As parents majorly impact their child’s well-being, and as fatigue is a highly prevalent threat to the well-being of children with a chronic disease, we aimed to explore the association between parental factors and fatigue in children with a chronic disease.Cross-sectional study.Two Dutch children’s hospitals.Children 2-18 years of age with either an autoimmune disease, cystic fibrosis or post-cancer treatment, and one of their parents.Paediatric fatigue was measured using the PedsQL Multidimensional Fatigue Scale. Parental factors included parental pain, fatigue and physical symptoms, parental distress, catastrophising thoughts about their child’s pain and family empowerment. Multiple linear regressions were used to study associations with paediatric fatigue. A multivariable regression model was used to assess the effect of the different parental factors on paediatric fatigue. All analyses were adjusted for the age and sex of the child.204 families participated (mean age 11.0±4.3 and 43.5±6.3 years for children and parents, respectively; 69% participation rate). More parental pain, fatigue and physical symptoms, and more parental distress and pain catastrophising were associated with more paediatric fatigue. More parental empowerment was associated with less paediatric fatigue on both subscales. In the multivariable model, only paediatric age remained significantly associated with fatigue. In a separate multivariable model for children 8-18 years old, more parental distress (β=-1.9, 95% CI -3.7 to -0.1) was also significantly associated with more paediatric fatigue.In a population of children with a chronic disease, parental factors, both physical and psychosocial, were associated with paediatric fatigue. Our study provides evidence that more family empowerment is associated with less paediatric fatigue. This exploratory study adds to our knowledge of associated factors with fatigue in paediatric chronic disease, providing starting points for targeted interventions.

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Authors: Niels Kramer, Sanne L Nijhof, Elise M van de Putte, Marjolijn Ketelaar, Martha A Grootenhuis, Kors van der Ent, Joost F Swart, Martine van Grotel, Geertje W Dalmeijer, Merel M Nap-van der Vlist