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Adolescents with Chronic Illnesses: Issues and Answers

Adolescence is a difficult period in life, regardless of whether or not there is a chronic illness involved. This period is often marked with distress, strained relationships, and difficulty in navigating new social roles. When individuals enter this developmental stage with a chronic illness, it can be especially trying. Despite how difficult this can be, little research has critically examined optimal, evidence-based ways of treating adolescents with chronic illness within an integrated care setting. Given the long-lasting impact of problems that can arise during this developmental stage (transitioning into adulthood, developing autonomy, creating an identity, creating long-lasting relationships, family functioning, etc.) along with problems that can arise from having a chronic illness (i.e., problems with treatment adherence, social stigma, school functioning, depression, lack of social support, poor coping skills, poor adherence to proper diet/exercise) it seems appropriate and necessary to look at these issues holistically. In addition, adolescence is frequently the time when both positive (i.e., regular exercise, healthful diet, treatment adherence) and negative health behaviors (i.e., poor treatment adherence, smoking, overeating) are initiated and set the tone for future health behaviors (Chesney & Antoni, 2002). This makes this developmental stage an all the more important period to intervene early and implement skills training early to prevent the likelihood of poorer health outcomes later in adulthood.


  • Chronic Illness
  • Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Compassion Fatigue
  • Cultural Consideration
  • Negative Health Behavior

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  • Chesney, M. A., & Antoni, M. H. (2002). Introduction: Translating a decade of innovations into clinical practice. In M. A. Chesney & M. H. Antoni (Eds.), Innovative approaches to health psychology. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

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© 2009 Springer-Verlag New York

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O’Donohue, W., Tolle, L.W. (2009). Introduction. In: O'Donohue, W. (eds) Behavioral Approaches to Chronic Disease in Adolescence. Springer, New York, NY.

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