This qualitative study aimed to gain an in-depth understanding of the adaptation of children and families to childhood chronic illness. Considering ecological theories and child empowerment, we departed from the usual practice of relying solely on parental report by also soliciting children?s views. Eighteen children aged 7-14 with cancer, chronic renal failure or type 1 diabetes, and 21 of their parents, participated. The inclusion of several conditions enabled the examination of data from a categorical versus non-categorical perspective. Focus groups supplemented by individual interviews explored participants? views about challenges and the processes they considered important in enhancing adaptation to a chronic illness. Children, as well as parents, provided rich material. Thematic analysis revealed 11 main themes. Six concerned the impact of the illness on various aspects of life. The other main themes were the meaning of disease, stress-processing, social support, future concerns and psychosocial interventions. There were many similarities and some differences between parent and child reports. Many issues were common across illness groups, consistent with a non-categorical approach, though there were some illness-specific issues, especially for those with cancer. Positive as well as negative material emerged. Implications for clinical services are discussed.
- Chronic illness