Neumann ML, Allen JY, Ladner A, Kakani S, Weaver MS, Mercer DF. Exploring the impact of pediatric short bowel syndrome on parent well-being using a disease-specific pilot survey. Nutr Clin Pract. 2024 Feb;39(1):154-67. doi: 10.1002/ncp.11008

BACKGROUND: Children with short bowel syndrome (SBS) have complex care needs, most of which are met in the home by family caregivers who may experience a range of stressors unique to this experience. Prior research suggests that parents of children with SBS have poorer health-related quality of life than peers parenting children without health needs, but the mechanisms shaping parent outcomes are understudied.

METHODS: A pilot survey was developed using a community-driven research design to measure the impact of disease-specific items on parent-perceived well-being. The cross-sectional survey, which included both closed-ended and open-ended items, was distributed to a convenience sample of parents of children with SBS. Quantitative and qualitative data were integrated for a mixed-methods analysis of how individual items impacted parent well-being.

RESULTS: Twenty parents completed the survey. Sleep interruptions, lack of support and resources, and psychological stressors and their mental health implications were more frequently reported as stressors than logistics related to caregiving (e.g., managing therapies and preparing specialized meals).

CONCLUSION: The impact of a child's SBS on parent well-being may stem mainly from three interconnected domains: poor sleep and its consequences, lack of access to support and resources, and a range of psychological stressors that affect parent mental health. Understanding the mechanisms through which SBS shapes parent well-being is a necessary first step for developing targeted interventions to support parents and provide family-centered care.

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