Depression among children with chronic medical problems: a meta-analysis

J Pediatr Psychol. 1994 Apr;19(2):149-69. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/19.2.149.


Reviewed 60 studies of depressive symptoms among children and adolescents with chronic medical problems. Findings indicate that children with a chronic medical problem are at slightly elevated risk for depressive symptoms but that most are not clinically depressed. Although great variability in depressive symptoms was found across children with the same disorder, children with certain disorders (e.g., asthma, recurrent abdominal pain, sickle cell anemia) may be at greater risk than children with other disorders (e.g., cancer, cystic fibrosis, diabetes mellitus). Disorder severity was inconsistently related to depressive symptoms, while time since diagnosis, gender, and age were generally unrelated to symptoms. Parent (vs. child) ratings and the use of community (vs. normative) control groups were associated with higher ratings of depressive symptoms among children with a chronic medical problem.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / epidemiology
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Cystic Fibrosis / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Pediatrics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Severity of Illness Index