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Scientific Articles

Psychosocial Needs and Facilitators of Mothers Caring for Children with Duchenne/Becker Muscular Dystrophy

key information

source: Journal of Genetic Counseling

year: 2018

authors: Holly L. Peay, Bettina Meiser, Kathleen Kinnett, Aad Tibben


Care guidelines for Duchenne/Becker muscular dystrophy (DBMD) include recommendations for assessment of caregivers of patients with DBMD followed by proactive psychosocial interventions. To inform clinical assessment, this study described appraisals of psychosocial needs and caregiving facilitators of mothers of individuals with DBMD.

Two hundred and five mothers completed an online survey. More than 50% endorsed unmet needs for managing uncertainty about the future and managing DBMD fears. Higher levels of unmet need were associated with less disease progression/earlier stage of DBMD (rho = -0.166 p = 0.02). Twenty-one percent regularly used respite care and 57% worried about allowing others to care for their child. Highly-endorsed care facilitators included partner relationships (63%), child’s approach to life (59%), and family relationships (49%).

Our findings highlight the importance of psychological and social support for caregivers. Starting when children are young, clinicians should assess caregivers’ unmet psychological needs, particularly uncertainty and fear. Exploring needs and facilitators may allow clinics to target and customize interventions that build upon existing strengths and supports. Our findings have implications for efforts to promote early diagnosis and newborn screening, in that increased needs in mothers of younger children should be anticipated and built into counseling. Further research can assess whether and how unmet needs change as new therapies become available.

organization: RTI International Research, USA; Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, USA; Leiden University Medical Centre, The Netherlands; Prince of Wales Clinical School, University of New South Wales, Australia

DOI: 10.1007/s10897-017-0141-4

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