Associations between social support and quality of life for children and adolescents with internal cardiac device
Cheng, Patricia Sinpei
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There is considerable evidence that cardiac devices such as pacemakers and internal cardiac defibrillators (ICDs) are important treatments which have led to increased life expectancy and decreased mortality rates for individuals with chronic cardiac arrhythmias (Taylor et al., 2001). Despite the impact of these devices on their physical condition, children and adolescents with internal cardiac devices also face a variety of psychosocial challenges. However, very little research is available regarding the impact of these treatments on the quality of life (QOL) of children and adolescents with arrhythmias. Research has supported the role of social support as an important protective factor against the effects of chronic stressors. However, this relationship has not been adequately examined for a population of pediatric patients with internal cardiac devices. The current study examined associations between three types (Esteem-enhancing, Informational, Tangible) and five sources (Family, Friends, Classmates, Teachers, Doctors/Nurses) of social support and the psychosocial functioning of children and adolescents with cardiac pacemakers and ICDs. Thirty-one children and adolescent with a cardiac pacemaker or ICD and their parents completed questionnaires assessing the childÕs health-related quality of life, self-competency, psychological adjustment, and social functioning. Results of bi-variate correlational analyses indicated that, as hypothesized, each of the three types of support were positively associated with positive outcomes, while family members and friends were the two sources of support most consistently associated with positive outcomes. Support from classmates and teachers was positively associated with fewer social problems and better self-competency. There were no significant associations when support from doctors or nurses was considered. Between group differences using ANOVA procedures indicated that the interaction of low Informational and high Esteem support was consistently associated with positive QOL outcomes. These findings have important implications for the development of future social support interventions for children adolescents with internal cardiac devices. Several important implications for future research in this area are also discussed.