Research Article Summary
Research Review: Childhood chronic physical illness and adult emotional health – a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ekin Secinti, Ellen J. Thompson, Marcus Richards, Darya Gaysina. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Volume 58, Issue 7, 2017, pages 753-769
This article researchers the correlation between chronical childhood illnesses and mental health issues and conditions throughout adulthood. It hypothesizes that the physical aftermath of the childhood chronic conditions leads to a greater emotional vulnerability later in life. The chronic conditions picked for the analysis included cancer, arthritis, asthma, renal failure, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, epilepsy, and congenital heart disease. To evaluate and measure the possible correlation the researchers gained access to a range of medical data bases, such as MEDLINE, PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, and ScienceDirect. A total of 37 studies were reviewed, with the standard set of relevancy and scientific methodology requirements applied. After a range of statistical tests with an emphasis on bivariate correlation analysis, the article concluded that the psychological damage of chronic physical conditions persists beyond childhood into adult life.
Personally, I do not find the results of the research presented in the article surprising. Most of the conditions picked for the review are associated with persistent physical pain, some are a source of life-threatening risk, and all affect a child’s lifestyle significantly. Chronically ill children tend to be socially isolated from their peers due to their unique experiences and condition-related limitations. I believe that mental health services and prevention support systems should focus more of their energy and resources on the chronically ill children and their families. The article touches on this conclusion as well by emphasizing the importance of the harm reduction and increased adaptability approach. Adults with an experience of childhood chronic illness remain a risk group, regardless of whether their conditions have been cured.