Objective: Children with very early-onset inflammatory bowel disease (VEO-IBD) represent a distinct group of patients with IBD with unique phenotypic and genetic characteristics; however, they are frequently omitted from psychosocial research. This study used a novel, brief measure of pediatric global health to assess (1) overall health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in children with VEO-IBD, (2) HRQOL compared to healthy children, and (3) whether gastrointestinal symptoms account for the differences in HRQOL between these groups.
Methods: Caregivers of 51 children with VEO-IBD (Mage = 4.26 years, 75% male) and 54 healthy children (Mage = 3.50 years, 54% male) completed the PROMIS Pediatric Global Health Scale (PGH-7) parent-proxy form to assess HRQOL and a questionnaire assessing gastrointestinal symptoms. Descriptive statistics, analysis of variance with covariates (ANCOVA), and meditation analyses with bootstrapping were conducted.
Results: Caregivers of children with VEO-IBD rated their HRQOL as relatively positive, although children with greater disease yielded lower ratings on some PGH-7 items (e.g., fun with friends, physical health, sadness). Compared to healthy youth, children with VEO-IBD scored lower on the PGH-7, with significantly lower item-level scores on overall health, physical health, mental health, and quality of life. Gastrointestinal symptoms mediated the association between health status (i.e., VEO-IBD vs. healthy) and HRQOL, αβ = -2.84, 95% CI = -5.70, -0.34.
Conclusions: While some children with VEO-IBD are at risk for deficits in HRQOL, many are quite resilient. Psychosocial screening is necessary for providing appropriate referrals to behavioral health services and learning more about psychosocial adjustment in children with VEO-IBD.
Keywords: chronic illness; developmental perspectives; gastroenterology; inflammatory bowel disease; psychosocial functioning; quality of life.
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