The social effects in adult life of chronic physical illness since childhood

Eur J Pediatr. 1995 Aug;154(8):676-81. doi: 10.1007/BF02079077.


An unselected group of 487 (222 females, 265 males) patients with juvenile onset chronic physical disorders was studied at the age of 19-25 years for their social outcome and compared with an age-matched group of 202 physically healthy controls. The interview covered both comprehensive and vocational schooling, data on their employment status, relationship to parents and sexual development in detail. The overall social maturation index showed poor social maturation in patients more often than in the controls. At the time of the study 23% of the patients and 11% of the controls had no vocational education or were not on their way to gaining it. Excluding those with a disability pension (10%), working experience, employment status and unemployment were fairly similar in both groups. Sexual development was delayed more often in the patients than in the controls and the patients were significantly more often unmarried and living in the same household as their parents. However, social and psychological factors accumulating in excess in the patient group were observed more significant than the physical disease to the delayed social maturation.

Conclusion: Among patients with chronic physical disorders there is a minor group with delayed social maturation. Those at risk can easily be recognized even before adolescence in order to offer them and their parents support to achieve reasonable social development in early adulthood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Chronic Disease / rehabilitation
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Assessment
  • Personality Development*
  • Psychosexual Development
  • Sick Role*
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Vocational Education