Health-related quality of life in children with and without physical-mental multimorbidity

Qual Life Res. 2021 Dec;30(12):3449-3461. doi: 10.1007/s11136-021-02963-6. Epub 2021 Jul 31.


Purpose: This study examined health-related quality of life (HRQL) in children across different physical illnesses; estimated parent-child agreement on HRQL reports; compared HRQL between children with and without physical-mental multimorbidity; and tested if multimorbidity was associated with HRQL.

Methods: Children aged 6-16 years (mean = 11.1; n = 198) with one physical illness and their parents were recruited from a pediatric hospital. Physical illnesses were classified according to the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD)-10, mental illnesses were assessed using the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview for Children and Adolescents, and HRQL was measured using the KIDSCREEN-27. Children who screened positive for ≥ 1 mental illness were classified as having physical-mental multimorbidity. χ2/t tests compared sample characteristics of children with vs. without multimorbidity; Kruskal-Wallis tests compared KIDSCREEN-27 scores across ICD-10 categories; interclass correlation coefficients estimated parent-child agreement; and multiple regression examined effects of the number of mental illnesses on HRQL.

Results: HRQL was similar across ICD-10 categories. Parent-child agreement was fair to good for all HRQL domains, regardless of multimorbidity status. Parent-reported HRQL was significantly lower for children with multimorbidity compared to norms across all domains, whereas child-reported HRQL was significantly lower for physical well-being, psychological well-being, and school environment. Number of mental illnesses was negatively associated with psychological well-being and school environment in a dose-response manner.

Conclusion: Children with physical-mental multimorbidity are vulnerable to experiencing lower HRQL, particularly for psychological well-being and school environment. Longitudinal studies documenting trajectories of HRQL and school-based interventions that target these domains of HRQL for children with multimorbidity are warranted.

Keywords: Agreement; Children; Mental illness; Multimorbidity; Physical illness; Well-being.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Multimorbidity
  • Parents
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Quality of Life* / psychology