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Pediatr Cardiol. 2012 Jun;33(5):705-12. doi: 10.1007/s00246-012-0198-7.

Sex and age differences in body-image, self-esteem, and body mass index in adolescents and adults after single-ventricle palliation.

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School of Nursing, University of California, Factor Building Room 3-938, Los Angeles, CA 90095-6919, USA.


Single-ventricle congenital heart disease (SVCHD) requires multiple palliative surgical procedures that leave visible surgical scars and physical deficits, which can alter body-image and self-esteem. This study aimed to compare sex and age differences in body-image, self-esteem, and body mass index (BMI) in adolescents and adults with SVCHD after surgical palliation with those of a healthy control group. Using a comparative, cross-sectional design, 54 adolescent and adult (26 male and 28 female) patients, age 15–50 years, with SVCHD were compared with 66 age-matched healthy controls. Body-image and self-esteem were measured using the Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire–Appearance Scale and Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. Height and weight were collected from retrospective chart review, and BMI was calculated. Female adolescents and adult patients with SVCHD reported lower body image compared with males patients with SVCHD and healthy controls (p = 0.003). Specific areas of concern were face (p = 0.002), upper torso or chest (p = 0.002), and muscle tone (p = 0.001). Patients with SVCHD who were \21 years of age had lower body image compared with healthy controls (p = 0.006). Self-esteem was comparable for both patients with SVCHD and healthy peers. There were no sex differences in BMI; BMI was higher in subjects[21 years of age (p = 0.01). Despite the similarities observed in self-esteem between the two groups, female patients with SVCHD\21 years of age reported lower perceived body-image. Our findings support the need to recognize poor psychological adjustment related to low self-esteem in patients with SVCHD; female patients warrant increased scrutiny. Strategies to help patients with SVCHD cope with nonmodifiable aspects of body-image during the difficult adolescent–to–young adult years may potentially enhance self-esteem and decrease psychological distress.

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