Acta Neurol Scand 2019 Apr 19. Epub 2019 Apr 19.
Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry, Medical School, University of Salerno, Salerno, Italy.
Objective: To assess maternal and paternal stress in two groups of children with different types of epilepsy, at the time of diagnosis and after one year of follow-up.
Methods: We investigated parental stress in a sample of 85 children aged between 2 and 14 years, divided into two groups based on the diagnosis: Group 1 (50 patients) with childhood absence epilepsy or idiopathic focal epilepsy with rolandic discharges and Group 2 (35 patients) with different forms of drug-resistant epilepsy. Parents independently completed the Parental Stress Index-Short Form at Time 0, when they received the diagnosis and patients started therapy, and at Time 1, after 1 year of follow-up.
Results: We found high levels of stress in both mothers and fathers at Time 0, without statistically significant differences between the two groups. At Time 1, stress values were unchanged in Group 1 mothers; conversely, the levels of stress in Group 1 fathers reduced, with average values that all fell within the "normal range." In Group 2, stress levels were reduced both in mothers and in fathers at Time 1, compared to Time 0, but equally fell into the "pathological range," for both parents.
Conclusion: In our study, the diagnosis of the epilepsy itself tended to increase parental stress, apparently regardless of the severity of the epilepsy; even after a period of follow-up, when the epilepsy was better controlled, overall parental stress remained high. It might have been related to feelings of parental inadequacy or concerns about issues such as safety or the outcome for the child.