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Psychiatr Clin North Am. 1996 Sep;19(3):481-93.

Psychiatric sequelae in seriously ill children and their families.

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Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine, USA.


Going through a life-threatening illness as a child or adolescent is a tremendously stressful experience for the entire family. Although the majority of survivors do go on to adjust and function well, some have ongoing problems. These problems include evidence of posttraumatic stress, learning difficulties, depression, and anxiety. Their parents appear to be even more severely affected, possibly because they had a better appreciation at the time of the true dangers posed by the illness and the treatment. Little is yet known about their siblings, although it is clear that the acute stage of illness and treatment effects the entire family. Areas needing study include the long-term sequelae on siblings of survivors, as well as a better understanding of the precipitants and mediators of the problems noted in survivors and parents. Only then can interventions and preventative measures be undertaken and tested. Also needed is a better understanding of the impact of cultural differences on precipitants, mediators, and symptoms.

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