Quality of Life and Anxiety in Parents of Children with an Anorectal Malformation or Hirschsprung Disease: The First Year after Diagnosis

Marieke J. Witvliet, Roel Bakx, Sander Zwaveling, Tonnis H. van Dijk, Alida F. W. van der Steeg

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In 2012, we started the KLANKbord-study. A quality of life (QoL) study that follows patients with an anorectal malformation (ARM) or Hirschsprung disease (HD) and their parents from diagnosis till the age of 18 years. We hypothesized that the diagnosis of ARM or HD initially has a negative influence on QoL and anxiety levels of parents, but that this influence will diminish over time. The aim of this study is to see whether QoL and anxiety levels of parents change within the first year after the diagnosis. Parents of all children born with ARM or HD, were eligible for this study. Within 3 months after the diagnosis ARM or HD, parents received a set of validated QoL questionnaires (measurement 1). Measurement 2 was 12 months after the first questionnaire. During measurement 1 mothers (n = 20) scored significantly higher on the social (p value, 0.01; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.3946-3.1528) and environmental domain (p value, 0.01; 95% CI, 0.4449-2.2851) of the World Health Organization Quality of Life-BREF (WHOQOL-BREF) compared with the known reference values. Fathers (n = 19) scored significantly higher on the physical (p value, 0.01; 95% CI, 0.2964-1.8072), psychological (p value, 0.001; 95% CI, 0.7697-2.4757), and environmental domain (p value, 0.003; 95% CI, 0.5586-2.4214) than the reference values. Comparison of all domains of the WHOQOL-BREF for mothers and fathers between measurements did not show a significant difference. Anxiety levels of mothers were lower during measurement 2 compared with measurement 1. Anxiety levels of fathers were higher during measurement 2 compared with measurement 1. These differences are not significant. Anxiety levels of mothers were significantly higher than anxiety levels of fathers during measurement 1 (p value, 0.002; 95% CI, 0.808-2,956). During measurement 2 this difference in anxiety of mothers versus fathers did not exist (p value, 0.373; 95% CI, -1.157 to 2.922). A negative influence on the QoL of parents having a child with ARM or HD, compared with the reference population was not seen in this population. QoL did not change significantly during the first year for both fathers and mothers. Anxiety levels of mothers did decline during this first year. The number of parents included in this study is still small, which might influence our results. Therefore, we will continue the KLANKbord-study indefinitely
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-6
JournalEuropean journal of pediatric surgery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


  • Hirschsprung disease
  • anorectal malformation
  • anxiety
  • quality of life

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