Psychological morbidity among children with transfusion dependent β-thalassaemia and their parents in Sri Lanka

PLoS One. 2020 Feb 11;15(2):e0228733. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0228733. eCollection 2020.

Abstract

Background: Thalassaemia is a chronic disease which requires lifelong treatment in a majority. Despite recent advances in the medical care, minimal attempts are made to improve psychological health in these patients. In this study, we aim to describe the psychological morbidity in patients with transfusion dependent β-thalassaemia and their mothers in Sri Lanka.

Methods: This case control study was conducted in the three largest thalassaemia centres of Sri Lanka. All patients with transfusion dependent β-thalassaemia aged 4-18 years were recruited as cases whilst a randomly selected group of children without chronic diseases were recruited as controls. Psychological morbidity of children was assessed using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire and depressive symptoms of mothers was assessed by the Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale.

Results: 288 transfusion dependent β-thalassaemia patients and equal number of controls were recruited. Abnormal emotional, conduct, hyperactivity and peer relationship symptom scores were reported by 18%, 17%, 9% and 14% of patients with thalassaemia respectively. Prevalences of abnormal psychological symptom scores in all domains were significantly higher among patients compared to controls. Abnormal conduct symptoms were significantly more prevalent among patients with HbE β-thalassaemia and those with suboptimal pretransfusion haemoglobin levels, lower transfusion volumes, hypothyroidism and undernutrition. Short stature was associated with abnormal emotional and hyperactivity scores. Depressive symptoms were significantly higher among mothers of patients with thalassaemia. Higher depressive symptom scores in mothers were significantly associated with abnormal emotional, conduct and peer relationship symptom scores in children.

Conclusions: A higher proportion of patients with transfusion dependent β-thalassaemia had abnormal psychological symptom scores. Abnormal conduct symptoms were more prevalent among patients with HbE β-thalassaemia, those who were inadequately transfused and having hypothyroidism and undernutrition. Mothers of the children with transfusion dependent β-thalassaemia had significantly higher depressive symptoms which were significantly associated with psychological symptoms among children.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Blood Transfusion
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Depression / diagnosis*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Hemoglobin E / analysis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mothers / psychology
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Sri Lanka / epidemiology
  • beta-Thalassemia / pathology*

Substances

  • Hemoglobin E

Grant support

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.