Adjustment to Medical Illness

  • Roshni L. Koli
  • Sherry Gaillard
  • Heather Tamaye
  • Joyce Wong
  • Wendi Hirsch


A medical condition, especially a chronic or life-threatening illness, can have a profound impact on children and their families. It is estimated that in the past 20 years chronic illness in children has more than doubled, so helping children to understand and process their feelings about their illness is imperative (Eccleston et al. 2012). Recent studies recognize parents’ critical role in positively or negatively influencing their child’s adjustment to a chronic illness (Eccleston et al. 2012; Campbell et al. 2017). Additional factors influencing this adjustment include the age or developmental stage of the child, parental or family stressors, and family dynamics. One way to help children and their families adapt to an illness is to promote active coping skills. The concept of coping can be described as the ability to manage or overcome life’s challenges with limited, or without, distress. This is often difficult to do with children and adolescents, especially during a medical illness. Children can experience fear, worry, and pain and may not always know how best to manage these feelings. The published literature recognizes that helping children and their families with effective coping strategies is beneficial and can optimize recovery and improve treatment outcomes (Eccleston et al. 2012; Coakley and Wihak 2017; Mechtel and Stoeckle 2017; Schonfeld and Demaria 2015).


Adjustment Chronic medical illness Coping Anxiety Depression Distress screening Child life Complementary services Integrative care Animal-assisted therapy 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roshni L. Koli
    • 1
  • Sherry Gaillard
    • 1
  • Heather Tamaye
    • 2
  • Joyce Wong
    • 2
  • Wendi Hirsch
    • 1
  1. 1.Kapiolani Behavioral Health ServicesKapiolani Medical Center for Women and ChildrenHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Child Life DepartmentKapiolani Medical Center for Women and ChildrenHonoluluUSA

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