Background: Bringing up children with atopic dermatitis (AD) is widely perceived as being stressful because parenting demands considerable time and energy. There have been only a few studies to assess the extent of problems experienced by the parents.
Objective: To assess the psychosocial well-being of parents caring for a young child with AD and to examine the relationship between parental quality of life and disease-related and sociodemographic variables.
Methods: One hundred and eighty-seven parents of young children with AD attending an inpatient rehabilitation clinic participated in the study. At admission, parents completed a set of questionnaires (assessing health-related quality of life, coping with the disease, family functioning). Dermatologists assessed disease severity using the severity scoring of AD index (SCORAD).
Results: In general, parents cope well with their situation. Compared with normal values, high rates of psychological distress were observed in a subsample of parents of children with AD. Parents of children with a higher severity of disease reported a significantly higher impact on family functioning, a greater financial burden and a higher level of disease management. Parental disease management could be predicted by the familial situation, their personal well-being and the severity of disease of their child. Differences attributed to their child's gender or age were not observed.
Conclusions: Childhood AD has a profound impact on the emotional and social well-being of many of the parents. The results underline the importance of psychological treatment approaches designed to increase parental well-being and ability to cope with stress and social strain.