In estimating the impact of an intervention, ignoring the effect of improving the health of one member of the caregiver/child dyad on the Health Related Quality of Life (HRQoL) of the other member may lead to an underestimation of the utility gained. This may be particularly true for infants/young children and their caregivers. The aim of this study was to quantify the interaction between the child’s perceived general health as assessed by the newly developed Toddler and Infant Questionnaire (TANDI) on the reporting of the caregiver’s own HRQoL as assessed by the EQ-5D-3 L.
A sample of 187 caregivers participated. A total of 60 caregivers of acutely-ill (AI) and 60 caregivers of chronically-ill (CI) children were recruited from a children’s hospital. The 67 caregivers of general population (GP) children were recruited at a pre-school. Each caregiver completed the proxy rating of their child’s HRQoL on the TANDI (The TANDI is an experimental HRQoL instrument, modelled on the EQ-5D-Y proxy, for children aged 1-36 months), which comprises of six dimensions of health and a rating of general health on a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS). The caregiver completed the EQ-5D-3 L, a self-report measure of their own HRQoL. Forward stepwise regression models were developed with 1) the VAS score of the caregiver and 2) the VAS score of the child as dependent variables. The independent variables for the caregiver included dummy variables for the presence or absence of problems on the EQ-5D-3 L and the VAS score of the child. The independent variables for the child included dummy variables for each TANDI dimension and the VAS of the caregiver.
The TANDI results indicated that in five of the six dimensions AI children had more problems than the other two groups and the GP children were reported to have a significantly higher VAS than the other two groups. The child’s VAS was significantly correlated with the caregiver’s VAS in all groups, but most strongly in the AI group. The preference based scores (using the UK TTO tariff) were only correlated in the AI group. The inclusion of the child’s VAS increased the variance accounted for 11% of the VAS score of the caregiver. Anxiety and depression was the only dimension which accounted for more variance (18%). Similarly the perceived health state, VAS of the caregiver accounted for 14% of the variance in the child’s VAS, second only to problems with play (25%).
There does indeed appear to be a strong relationship between the VAS scores of the children and their caregivers. The perceived general health of the child influences the caregivers reporting of their general health, more than their own report of experiencing pain or discomfort or problems with mobility. Thus, improving the HRQoL of the very young child may improve the caregiver’s HRQoL as well. Conversely, if the caregiver has a lower perceived HRQoL this may result in a decrement in the reported VAS of the child, independent of the presence or absence of problems in the different dimensions. This improvement is not currently captured by Cost Utility Analysis (CUA). It is recommended that future research investigates this effect with regards to CUA calculations.