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  • Self-Reported Quality of Life Among Adolescents With Cerebral Palsy Similar to Peers Without Disability

    In what authors describe as "some of the most reliable evidence on how adolescents with cerebral palsy feel about life," a new study from Europe reports that in general, self-reported quality of life (QoL) among this population isn't that much different from their peers without disability, but could be even better with greater attention paid to pain early on.

    Researchers gathered responses to a survey (KIDSCREEN) issued to the same group of 355 individuals with cerebral palsy at 2 different points in their lives—as children aged 8 to 12 (average respondent age 10.4) and then later as adolescents aged 13 to 17 (average respondent age 15.1). The study compared the responses against results from adolescents without a disability and longitudinally within the respondents with cerebral palsy. An article describing the results was e-published ahead of print in the October 7 issue of The Lancet.

    "Our results are encouraging," authors write, stating that among the 10 QoL domains studied (physical wellbeing, psychological wellbeing, moods and emotions, self-perception, autonomy, relationships with peers, social support and peers, school life, finances, and social acceptance), adolescents with cerebral palsy were on a par with their peers without disabilities on 9 domains, with only "social support and peers" scoring lower for the group with cerebral palsy.

    "Individual and societal attitudes should be affected by the similarity [of scores] in children with cerebral palsy and the general population," authors write. "Only the quality of peer relationships is on average lower … and therefore such adolescents need particular help to maintain and develop peer relationships."

    When authors looked at the respondents with cerebral palsy from a longitudinal perspective, they found some correlation between psychological difficulties and parenting stress in childhood to lower QoL reporting in adolescence, and an even stronger connection between pain and the lower scores. "In the models combining the postulated predictors of [quality of life], pain, especially in adolescence, remained a significant predictor of QoL in all domains apart from autonomy, social support and peers, and financial resources," they write.

    "Although the rights of people with disabilities to participate in society are recognized and being implemented in many countries, adolescents with disabilities might still be regarded as having unhappy, unfulfilled lives," authors write. "Findings from qualitative studies, which challenge such a view, are now supported by our large epidemiological study. For children with below average QoL, early interventions to ameliorate high levels of psychological problems, parenting stress, and especially child pain, will probably have long-term benefits across many domains of the young person's life."

    Research-related stories featured in PT in Motion News are intended to highlight a topic of interest only and do not constitute an endorsement by APTA. For synthesized research and evidence-based practice information, visit the association's PTNow website.

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