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Valiakalayil_Paulson_Tibbo_2004 - Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr...

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Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol (2004) 39 : 528–535 DOI 10.1007/s00127-004-0778-9 Abstract Objective Adolescent children of parents with schizophrenia are generally overlooked in studies of family burden. Few published data exist about this younger cohort compared to adult family members such as parents,spouses,and siblings.This pilot study aims to examine the types of burden described by adolescent chil- dren of parents with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Meth- ods Thirteen adolescents (9F: 4M) between the ages of 13 and 18 who had at least one parent diagnosed with schiz- ophrenia were administered a semi-structured interview as part of a pilot project to examine burden in this group. Questions asked during the interview were directed at the subject’s knowledge of the disorder,relationship with the parent, impact of the disorder on personal life, coping strategies used, and future concerns. Results Responses showed that the adolescents were uninformed about their parent’s illness, had difficulties dealing with symptoms (positive and negative), were required to assume addi- tional household responsibilities, and were concerned about their parent’s future welfare. Conclusion This pilot study illustrates that children of individuals with schizo- phrenia feel their lives are impacted by their parent’s ill- ness.More research is needed in this area to quantify and describe the types of burden experienced by this vulne- rable group to ensure availability of adequate support. Key words caregiver burden – high risk adolescents – schizophrenia – family – qualitative interview – psychosocial interventions ORIGINAL PAPER Agitha Valiakalayil · Lori Anne Paulson · Philip Tibbo Burden in adolescent children of parents with schizophrenia The Edmonton High Risk Project Accepted: 14 January 2004 SPPE 778 Introduction Over the past few decades, there has been a strong and appropriate movement to maintain individuals with chronic mental illness in the community. However, fam- ily members often face responsibilities that may not have occurred in the past [1–3]. A result of the added caregiving tasks is an increase in the level of burden felt by family members. Research of the past few years has focused on trying to describe and quantify this family burden in order to assist families in their changing roles [4–6].While this literature has much to offer about how adult family members are coping with this responsibil- ity, there is still a paucity of research on the degree of burden endured by adolescent children of individuals with mental illness. This paper presents pilot work examining burden in adolescent children of individuals with schizophrenia. By investigating the types of burden described by these young people, we hope to increase awareness of adoles- cent burden in relation to schizophrenia, and explore ways to enable these young people to develop strategies in dealing with their unique burden.
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