Objective. This study was conducted to determine whether a specialized form of nursing could help prevent or reduce psychosocial maladjustment among children, aged 4 to 16 years, with chronic physical disorders. In contrast to other studies, nurses were chosen to provide the intervention based on their central role in health care and the appropriateness of their training for this task.
Methodology. A clinical trial was conducted in which 332 children and their families were randomly assigned either to receive this specialized nursing for a 1-year period, or to remain in the control condition. The children were all active outpatients in nine clinics at the Montreal Children's Hospital. Three measures of psychosocial functioning administered before and after the intervention were the basis for assessing its efficacy. The measures included the behavior problems profile of the Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist, the Personal Adjustment and Role Skills, completed by the parents, and two versions of the Self-Perception Profile (Harter) for children aged 4 to 7 years and 8 to 16 years.
Results. Differences between groups were examined both categorically and quantitatively. In the former, the percent of children with clinical scores (those above or below a cut-off indicative of maladjustment) at baseline and postintervention were compared In the latter, the mean scores at the end of the trial were analyzed using analysis of covariance with the baseline scores as covariates. Statistically significant positive differences were found in the domain of anxiety/depression on the Personal Adjustment and Role Skills, and in the areas of scholastic competence, behavior, and global self-worth on the Harter.
Conclusion. The results indicate that this intervention helps children with chronic disorders by preventing or reducing maladjustment Most university-prepared nurses already have the basic skills required to achieve these results; only a modest investment in reorientation may be needed. Thus, other pediatric centers should be able to replicate these findings and thereby take a major step toward improving the lives of children with chronic disorders.
- Received August 16, 1993.
- Accepted November 23, 1993.
- Copyright © 1994 by the American Academy of Pediatrics