Parents of Newly Diagnosed Children Experience Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome

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They’re fighting a war, but it isn’t on foreign soil. This war is in their own homes, and it involves a diabetes diagnosis for their child. The outcome—post-traumatic stress disorder—is all too real among these reluctant “soldiers.”

Researchers in Switzerland report that 24 percent of the mothers and 22 percent of the fathers of the 38 children they studied “met full diagnostic criteria” for post-traumatic stress disorder six weeks after their child was diagnosed with type 1. The other parents didn’t fare much better: 51 percent of the mothers and 41 percent of the fathers met the criteria for partial or subclinical post-traumatic stress syndrome. On the bright side, only one parent in most households experienced the disorder.

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder occurred regardless of age or gender of the child, socioeconomic status, family structure or length of hospital stay.

The researchers argue that a post-traumatic stress model should be applied to investigate the psychological impact of type 1 on parents of newly diagnosed children.

Journal of Pediatric Psychology, October 2002

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