Psychologic distress and coping strategies among caregivers of children with sickle cell disease; a comparative study of caregivers presenting to the University College Hospital, Ibadan Nigeria
Background: Caregivers of children may undergo psychologic challenges when their children fall ill. It is assumed that, caregivers of
chronically ill children differ in their experience of psychologic distress and coping strategies compared to caregivers of non-critical
acutely ill children. Irrespective, the psychologic effects of caregiving and the deployed coping strategies of caregivers should not be
Methods: This was a cross-sectional comparative study conducted at the Paediatric, Hematology and Family Medicine outpatient clinics of the University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan, Nigeria. The research was conducted in April-July 2015, on 140 primary caregivers of young patients with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) and caregivers of age-matched non-SCD patients.
Results: The percentage of SCD patients' caregivers (17.1%) older than 50yrs, was approximately twice of non-SCD patients' caregivers (8.7%). Mild to moderate anxiety, was prevalent in 92.6% and 84.1% of caregivers of SCD and non-SCD patients, while more (13.2%) of non-SCD patients' caregivers experienced moderate depression. Humour (p=0.028) and “venting” (p=0.003) coping strategies, were utilized by more of the SCD patients' caregivers (19.7% & 21.2%) compared to fewer, of the non-SCD patients' caregivers (4.5% & 4.4%). Higher percentage of caregivers (86.6% & 61.2%) of SCD patients significantly deployed “religion” and “acceptance” as coping strategies compared to (68.7% & 26.9 %) of non-SCD patients' caregiver (p=0.024 & < 0.001).
Conclusions: Caregivers of children, experiences psychologic distress irrespective of nature of children's illness. However, older caregivers of children with chronic illness can adopt religious, acceptance, venting and humour as adaptive coping strategies.
Keywords; Coping strategies, SCD, Caregivers, Psychologic distress, Venting