Study finds hospitalisation of children impacts school, parent’s work


New Delhi: A new study finds that children with critical illness in intensive care miss school for days to weeks while their parents miss work to be with them.

This research is published in the ‘JAMA Open Network Journal’. Two out of three children in a study group of young patients requiring ICU care for serious illness missed school during six months of discharge—with an average absence of two weeks but sometimes longer.

Meanwhile, half of the primary caregivers left work during the same period. Lead author Erin Carlton, MD, a pediatrician at Michigan Health CS Mott Children’s Hospital, said, “Pediatric acute illness affects a family’s health and well-being not only during a child’s treatment but also after they leave the hospital and go home. “

“We know that this much school drop puts children at risk of poor academic achievement and other poor health outcomes later in life. Their families may also be at increased risk of economic hardship,” he said.

Researchers assessed school and work absences among 960 children aged 0-18 who required ICU care, including mechanical ventilation, after respiratory failure due to conditions such as pneumonia, sepsis, infection, transplant, asthma or bronchiolitis. The study was based on data from the Multi-Center Restore Trial between 2010 and 2015, which focused on improving the care and comfort of children during ICU hospitalization and supporting their physical and emotional health after discharge.

Of the nearly 400 children enrolled in school, about 70 percent did not attend after-care classes in the hospital. More than half of those who dropped out of school met the criteria for chronic absence.

Children who had a pre-existing illness, as well as those in the ICU for longer periods, were more likely to be absent from school for longer periods.

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

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

“We know that the health of the child and the family is always closely linked with what affects each other. When the consequences of a child’s illness spread on their family it can create a chain reaction – impeding the child’s recovery. affects and worsens their overall health,” she said. added.

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

Further study is needed to better understand the financial cost of missed work and the strain on families. Earlier studies show that parents worry about job loss or low pay when taking time off to care for a sick child and many do not qualify for parental leave programs.

Previous research suggested that parents with access to leave or paid benefits were more likely to miss work when their child needed it, suggesting awareness and access to family leave benefits could reduce this stress. can. Carlton said, “Given the magnitude of missed work in our study and the difficulties described by parents in prior studies, there is a great need for programs and policies to support and protect families during and after children’s hospitalization. the wanted.”

He said pediatric health providers should explore strategies to improve transition from hospital to home and home to school. “Our study shows the importance of studying ways to help children return to school after ICU,” she said.

Carlton concluded, “We need to commit to efforts to reduce barriers to school participation and absenteeism to improve outcomes for children and their families after serious illness.”

First published:December 27, 2021, 3:35 am

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