The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
MD contributed to study design, carried out the National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs in Switzerland, performed statistical analyses, and drafted the manuscript. MMK designed and guided the National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs in Switzerland and helped to draft the manuscript. MAL contributed to study design, and helped to perform statistical analyses and draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Children with mental health problems have been neglected in health-related quality of life (HRQOL) studies. Therefore, the aims of the current study were 1) to assess the influence of the presence of mental or physical health problems on HRQOL; and 2) to analyze the effects of item overlap between mental health problems and HRQOL-measurements.
Proxy- and self-rated HRQOL (KIDSCREEN-27) of children 9–14 years old was assessed across children with mental health problems (n = 535), children with physical health problems (n = 327), and healthy controls (n = 744). Multiple linear regression analyses were conducted with health status, severity of symptoms, status of medication use, gender and nationality as independent, and HRQOL scores as dependent variables. The effects of item overlap were analyzed by repeating regression analyses while excluding those HRQOL items that contextually overlapped the most frequently-occurring mental health problem (attention deficits).
Severity of symptoms was the strongest predictor of reduced HRQOL. However, all other predictors (except for the status of medication use) also contributed to the prediction of some HRQOL scores. Controlling for item overlap did not meaningfully alter the results.
When children with different health constraints are compared, the severity of their particular health problems should be considered. Furthermore, item overlap seems not to be a major problem when the HRQOL of children with mental health problems is studied. Hence, HRQOL assessments are useful to gather information that goes beyond the clinical symptoms of a health problem. This information can, for instance, be used to improve clinical practice.