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Parents with ailing children are often sick too

Parents of children with chronic health problems are twice as likely to have health problems than those with healthy children.

Parents with ailing children are often sick too

Parents of children with chronic health problems are twice as likely to have health problems than those with healthy children.

To evaluate whether caring for a child with health problems had implications for the caregivers' health, researchers from Canada analysed health outcomes among caregivers of 3,633 healthy children and 2,485 children with chronic mild to severe health conditions. Caregiver health outcomes included chronic conditions, activity limitations, self-reported general health, depressive symptoms, social support, family functioning, and marital satisfaction.

The families had similar socio-demographic characteristics, except that families of children with chronic health issues were more often single-parent households, had slightly younger caregivers (35 versus 36years) who were more likely to smoke.

Nearly 57 percent parents of children with health problems reported their own health issues in contrast to about 35 percent of parents with healthy kids. Also, parents of children with health problems were more likely to report having limited ability to perform duties at home, work, or elsewhere (16 percent versus 7 percent). Moreover, caregivers of children with health problems had greater odds of reporting symptoms of depression, and were less likely to report their own health as excellent or very good.

The above findings suggest a definite link between caregivers' health and health of the children for whom they care and carry implications for the movement toward family-centered services.
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