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Neuromuscul Disord. 2015 Jan;25(1):85-93. doi: 10.1016/j.nmd.2014.09.001. Epub 2014 Sep 10.

Becoming a back-up carer: parenting sons with Duchenne muscular dystrophy transitioning into adulthood.

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Department of Human Health Science, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan. Electronic address:
Department of Human Health Science, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.


The population of adults with Duchenne muscular dystrophy is increasing rapidly. However, information for individuals with DMD and their parents about the transition to adulthood is lacking; young adult sons and their parents may struggle to maintain smooth family functioning and well-being during this period. This study examined the process of change in parental behaviors during their son's transition. The participants were 18 parents with sons aged 15-30 years. Data were obtained from semi-structured interviews and analyzed using a grounded theory approach. Eleven categories of behaviors were identified across three domains: emotional, physical, and determination. The changes made by parents were directed toward becoming a back-up carer: letting go of some control but still being active participants in their sons' lives. We identified several issues important for well-being in the transition period: psychological support, the aging of the parents (the primary caregivers) and the concomitant emergency and specialized care needs, and parents' intervention in the self-determination of adult sons with DMD. The findings of this study may provide a rationale to advocate for policies to improve support for parents of sons with DMD transitioning to adulthood and provide information to help parents in their role as primary care providers.


Duchenne muscular dystrophy; Grounded theory; Parent; Transition; Young adult

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