Objective: To compare the health-related quality of life (HRQL) between children aged 6-17 years with one of three mental disorders (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, major depressive disorder, or conduct disorder), a physical disorder, and those with none of these disorders.
Method: Parent reports describing the HRQL, mental disorders, and physical disorders of a national sample of 3,597 children and adolescents in Australia, aged 6-17 years (response rate = 70%), were obtained by means of a structured diagnostic interview and questionnaires.
Results: After controlling for age, gender, and family structure, children with mental disorders were reported to have a significantly worse HRQL in several domains than children with no disorder. In many areas they were reported to have a worse HRQL than children with physical disorders. Parents also reported that the problems of children with mental disorders interfered significantly with the daily lives of children, parents, and families.
Conclusions: The findings are consistent with previous studies which have reported that adults with mental disorders have substantial impairment in their HRQL. The findings suggest that children with a mental disorder require help in many areas of their lives. Achieving this will require an integrated approach to health care delivery rather than the current distinction between physical and mental health services.