Parents' views on growth hormone treatment for their children: psychosocial issues

Patient Prefer Adherence. 2012;6:547-53. doi: 10.2147/PPA.S33157. Epub 2012 Jul 25.


Background: We evaluated the opinions of parents in The Netherlands concerning treatment of their children with growth hormone, and examined beliefs and perceptions about treatment and quality of health care communication and support.

Methods: An Internet survey was completed by 69 parents who had children prescribed growth hormone and were part of the Patient Intelligence Panel. Acceptance of the diagnosis and treatment was investigated with reference to four topics, ie, search and quality of information, involvement in decision-making process, operational aspects, and emotional problems and support.

Results: Among the parents surveyed, 48% reported a lack of freedom to choose the type of growth hormone device that best suited their needs, 92% believed that their children (and they themselves) would benefit if the children self-administered growth hormone, and 65% believed training to support self-administration would be helpful. According to 79%, the availability of support from another parent with experience of treating their own child with growth hormone, alongside their doctor, would be valuable. Thirty-seven percent of the parents indicated that their children felt anxious about administration of growth hormone, and 83% of parents would appreciate psychological support to overcome their anxiety. An increase in reluctance to receive treatment with growth hormone was observed by 40% of parents after the children reached puberty, and 57% of these parents would appreciate psychological support to overcome this reluctance.

Conclusion: Understanding how growth hormone treatments and their implications are perceived by parents is a first step towards addressing quality of growth hormone treatment, which may be instrumental in improving adherence. The data show a need for support and involvement of parents in the process of choosing a growth hormone device. This decision-making process may be instrumental in improving acceptance and diminishing emotional problems for children using growth hormone.

Keywords: adherence; growth hormone; parents; pediatric chronic disease; treatment beliefs.