Objective: To assess the need for formal psychotherapeutic intervention in children attending a children's haemophilia clinic after some of them had been diagnosed as positive for HIV.
Design: Comparison of haemophiliac children with matched control groups of diabetic and healthy children.
Setting: The West of Scotland Children's Haemophilia Centre, Glasgow.
Patients: 43 Children aged 3 to 16 years with mild, moderate, and severe clotting disorders were matched with control groups of 46 diabetic children and 42 physically healthy children.
Interventions: Parents of children aged 3-5 years were interviewed with the behaviour screening questionnaire. Children aged 6 to 16 were assessed by parental and teacher report using standardised questionnaires and self report using a computerised depression inventory. All were scored numerically according to the presence of symptoms of emotional and behavioural problems.
Main outcome measures: The groups were compared for mean scores on each rating device and for number of children achieving scores within the pathological range.
Results: In the 6-16 age group five haemophiliac children, five diabetic children, and three healthy children scored in the pathological range on the parent questionnaire, as did two, three, and five respectively on the teacher questionnaire and four, four, and eight on the depression inventory. There was no significant difference across the three groups. Analysis of mean scores similarly showed no significant difference across groups. In contrast, the single measure used for younger children showed an increase in behavioural difficulties among the diabetic children.
Conclusion: Haemophiliac children attending the West of Scotland Centre were no more disturbed than their diabetic or healthy peers despite the identification of HIV infection within the clinic and the widespread adverse publicity associated with AIDS and HIV infection.