Children’s hospitalization impacts school, parents’ work: study


Michigan: Children in intensive care miss days to weeks of school while their parents skip work to care for them, a new study finds.

The study was published in the “JAMA Open Network Journal”. In the six months following discharge, two in three children in a research cohort of young patients requiring intensive care for serious illness missed school, with absences averaging two weeks but sometimes longer.

During the same period, half of the main caregivers were absent from work.

“Serious pediatric illnesses impact the health and well-being of a family not only while the child is treated, but after he is discharged from the hospital and returned home,” said the senior author Erin Carlton, MD, pediatric intensivist at CS Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan Health.

“We know that missing so much school puts children at poorer school performance and other health problems later in life. Their families may also be at increased risk of economic hardship,” he said. -she adds.

Researchers looked at absences from school and work for 960 children aged 0-18 who needed intensive care treatment, including mechanical ventilation, after respiratory failure due to pneumonia, sepsis, infections, a transplant, asthma or bronchiolitis.

The research was based on data from the multi-center RESTORE project, which focused on improving the care and comfort of children in intensive care units and maintaining their physical and mental health after discharge between 2010 and 2015. .

About 70% of the nearly 400 students enrolled in the school missed classes because of their hospitalization. More than half of those who missed school met the criteria for chronic absenteeism.

Children with pre-existing conditions, as well as those who spent more time in the ICU, were more likely to have longer absences from school.

Meanwhile, nearly 53 percent of working parents and primary caregivers missed work during the post-discharge period, and 20 percent of siblings also missed school during the hospitalization itself. .

“A child’s acute illness affects not only the child but the whole family, including siblings and caregivers,” Carlton said.

“We know that the health of the child and the family are closely linked, one always having an impact on the other. When the consequences of a child’s illness affect their family, it can create a chain reaction, affecting the child’s recovery and worsening his general health, “she said. added.

The financial burden of absences from work and the inability of a caregiver to return to work while caring for a child can also be detrimental, she said.

Further studies are needed to better understand the financial cost of work absences and stress on families. Previous studies show that parents fear losing their jobs or reducing their wages when they take time off to care for a sick child, and many are not eligible for certain parental leave programs.

Parents with access to time off or paid benefits were more likely to take time off work when their child needed it, suggesting that awareness and access to family leave benefits may reduce this stress, according to reports. previous research.

“Given the magnitude of the missed work found in our study and the difficulties described by parents in previous studies, there is a great need for programs and policies to support and protect families during and after hospitalization. a child, ”Carlton said.

She said pediatric care providers also need to research strategies to improve hospital-to-home and home-to-school transitions.

“Our study shows the importance of exploring ways to help children return to school after the ICU,” she said.

“We must commit to making efforts to reduce barriers to school participation and absences in order to improve outcomes for children and their families following serious illness,” Carlton concluded.

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Posted on: Sunday December 26th, 2021 19:46 IST


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