Behavioral aspects of chronic illness in children and adolescents

Pediatr Clin North Am. 2003 Aug;50(4):859-78. doi: 10.1016/s0031-3955(03)00072-5.


Despite the detail that is provided on the potential negative outcomes of children and families who have chronic illnesses, most of these families show admirable resilience. Most children adjust to their illnesses within 1 year and most families achieve healthy stable functioning with accommodations for the illness. The challenge of adjusting to a chronic illness can provide an excellent opportunity for a child or adolescent to master crucial skills, such as emotion regulation and problem-solving. Mastery of these skills can engender strong self-esteem and confidence. As our knowledge about the predictive factors for positive behavioral outcomes increases, the pediatrician can be in the position to minimize the negative behavioral aspects of chronic illness and facilitate adjustment. Attention to the behavioral aspects of chronic illness in the three critical areas of psychosocial adjustment of the patient, adjustment of the family, and adherence to regimens, allows pediatricians to play a crucial role in prevention, early identification, and early interventions. We hope that the material that is included in this review provides a starting point for clinicians to understand and to begin to assess these critical factors in chronic illness in children and adolescents.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / etiology*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / therapy
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Chronic Disease / therapy*
  • Humans