Background: The psychological impact of childhood atopic eczema on parents and carers is poorly quantified. Objectives To compare the impact of caring for a child with atopic eczema vs. asthma on parents' sleep and well-being.
Methods: Ninety-two parents of 55 children who had moderate to severe atopic eczema or asthma took part in this prospective, questionnaire-based study. It was conducted at regional eczema and asthma outpatient clinics within a U.K. tertiary paediatric hospital. The main outcome measures were the number and duration of parents' sleep disturbances, as well as their anxiety and depression scores.
Results: Mothers caring for children with atopic eczema lost a median of 39 min of sleep per night and fathers lost 45 min sleep per night. This compared with a median of 0 min sleep lost by parents who had children with asthma (P < 0.001). These differences were independent of the age of the children, and whether the child came from a single-parent or two-parent family. There was a direct correlation between the severity of sleep disturbance and the level of maternal anxiety (rho = 0.58; P = 0.002) and depression (rho = 0.73; P < 0.001), as well as the level of paternal anxiety (rho = 0.59; P = 0.01).
Conclusions: Compared with looking after a child with chronic asthma, caring for a child with chronic atopic eczema was associated with greater parental sleep disturbances. Disruption to parental sleep correlated with anxiety levels and, in the case of mothers, depression scores.