The Adolescent With Cystic Fibrosis : A Psychosocial Perspective

  • LD Carew Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, University of Cape Town , Groote Schuur Hospital, Observatory 7925


Objective: to provide an overview of the literature pertaining to the mental health of adolescents with Cystic Fibrosis (CF), a chronic physical disorder.

Method: a Medline search and aditional hand searches were performed to identify key articles relating to the psychosocial impact of CF and other chronic disorders in adolescence.

Results: Interest in the field of chronic disorders is reflected in the increased volume of research published in recent years. Epidemiological surveys have established that children and adolescents with chronic disorders are at a two- to threefold increased risk of developing a psychiatric disorder. Clinic-based studies have either adopted a broad perspective and studied chronic disorders as a whole or narrowed the focus to a single disorder. There are relatively few studies focusing on adolescent adjustment and Cystic Fibrosis. Mediating factors in individual and family adjustment have been identified in children and adolescents with chronic physical disorders.

Conclusions: First, the majority of adolescents with CF and other chronic disorders have no diagnosable psychiatric disorder nor do they report significant impairment in social adaptation. It is however suggested that significant levels of emotional disturbance go undetected in conventional studies which utilise measures of social adaptation to comment on psychosocial functioning. The psychological effects of CF and other chronic disorders warrants further exploration. Second, Intervention programmes which facilitate normative adolescent development and enhance the mental health of this group are needed. Health professionals should be sensitive to the distress of individuals and families and refer for specialised intervention when necessary

Southern African Jnl Child and Adolescent Mental Health Vol.13(1) 2001: 26-29

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1728-0591
print ISSN: 1728-0583