Well-being and need for support of adolescents with a chronically ill family member.


This study investigates whether there are differences in the well-being, need for help and use of support services between adolescents with and without a chronically ill or disabled family member. It also examines the role played by the type of illness, the relationship to the family member and the nature and intensity of the help provided by the adolescent. A Dutch sample of 1581 adolescents (average age 14.6 years) completed a questionnaire in 2010 about mental health problems, pro-social behavior, need for and use of support and the illness of family members and any care tasks performed by the respondent. Young people with a sick family member had more mental health problems than their counterparts without a chronically ill family member. They also reported a greater need for and use of help and support. Performing domestic tasks was found to be a predictor for overall mental health problems. The intensity of the help given was related to the need for help by the adolescent. It is concluded that growing up with a chronically ill family member and spending a lot time performing (domestic) tasks are risk factors for adolescent mental health problems and adolescents’ need for help. Special attention is warranted for those who need support but who do not translate that need into reality by seeking help.