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Posttraumatic stress and health-related quality of life in parents of children with cardiac rhythm devices

Quality of Life Research
Helene Werner, Christian Balmer, Phaedra Lehmann
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Studies have shown a high prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) among parents of children with life-threatening diseases. However, it is yet unknown whether parents of children with cardiac rhythm device develop posttraumatic stress symptoms or even PTSD.


This cross-sectional investigation is part of a comprehensive single-center study of long-term medical and psychosocial outcomes in pediatric patients with pacemaker (PM) and implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). 69 patients (78%) were included in the study, with the participation of 69 mothers and 57 fathers. Parents completed the Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale and Medical Outcomes Study Short Form-36 item questionnaire. Child’s medical data was collected retrospectively from patients’ hospital records.


At assessment, the patients (39% females) were on average 11.2 years old. The predominant device type was PM in 56 cases (81%). The mean time since device implantation was 6.3 years (SD = 4.3). Full heart-disease related PTSD was diagnosed in one mother and no father, while partial heart-disease-related PTSD was diagnosed in 3 mothers (4%) and 2 fathers (4%). Parental HRQoL—especially regarding the mental health dimension—was affected in both parents. In both parents, total PTSD symptom severity scores were a significant predictor for mental health summary scores after controlling for child age at implantation, presence of other non-cardiac disease in the child, parental age, and presence of own chronic disease.


Special attention should be given to parental PTSD symptoms in the clinical follow-up of PM and ICD patients as some parents might probably benefit from psychological support.

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