Factors Associated With Quality of Life for Children Affected by Parental Illness or Substance Abuse

Scand J Caring Sci. 2020 May 7. doi: 10.1111/scs.12868. Online ahead of print.


Background: There have been inconsistent findings from studies examining factors associated with quality of life (QoL) for children affected by parental illness.

Aim: The aim of this study was to explore factors associated with self-reported QoL in children affected by parental illness or parental substance abuse.

Design: A cross-sectional multicentre study.

Methods: The sample included 246 families with children 8-18 years recruited via ill parents who received treatment for severe physical illness, mental illness or substance abuse in specialised health services. We performed multiple linear regression analyses to examine factors associated with the children's self-reported QoL.

Main outcome measure: KIDSCREEN-27.

Results: The children's self-reported QoL was positively associated with the ill parent's self-reported physical health, the children's self-reported social skills, the degree to which other adults took over the ill parent's responsibilities, provision of sibling care, provision of health care for the ill parent and positive outcome of caregiving. The children's QoL was negatively associated with the children's self-reported responsibilities due to parental illness, provision of emotional care for the ill parent, negative outcomes of caregiving and external locus of control. The model explained 63% of the variance (adjusted R2 ) in children's total QoL.

Study limitations: Sampling bias may have occurred during recruitment.

Conclusions: The findings suggest factors of importance for the children's QoL. Clinicians should assess whether an ill parent's physical health may influence negatively on their ability to perform daily responsibilities at home and care for their children, and clinicians can use children's self-reported QoL to identify children who are most negatively affected.

Keywords: cross-sectional study; parental mental illness; parental severe physical illness; parental substance abuse; quality of life; young caregivers; young carers.

Publication types

  • Review