Employment, health visits, mental health, and mortality in parents with a chronically ill child: a Danish nationwide population-based cohort study

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Magnus Spangsberg Boesen
  • Lau Caspar Thygesen
  • Morten Blinkenberg
  • Alfred Peter Born
  • Peter Uldall
  • Melinda Magyari
  • Eriksson, Frank

Chronic diseases in children can impact their parents; this may be overlooked in a clinical setting. Our aim was to investigate associations of chronic diseases in children with their parents’ employment, health care utilization, mental health, and mortality. In a matched cohort study using nationwide and population-based data in Denmark, we included parents to children (< 18 years) with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and rheumatoid arthritis/juvenile idiopathic arthritis during 2008–2015. The reference group was parents to unaffected children. Outcomes were parental employment (early retirement, cash benefits, income), health care utilization (e.g., general practitioner, or hospital visits), mental health (visits to psychiatry/psychology clinics, antidepressant drug redemptions), and mortality. We included 13,769 parents with a chronically ill child and 138,606 control parents. Annual income was unaffected for two-parent families after the child’s disease onset, but two-parent families had increased hazard of early retirement of 25% (95% CI = 1.01–1.54; p = 0.04). Parents with a chronically ill child had (a) increased rate of antidepressant drug redemptions or psychology/psychiatry visits (hazard ratio 1.37; 95% CI = 1.28–1.46 at 1-year follow-up); (b) increased health care utilization, with an increased marginal mean in primary care of 1% (95% CI = 1.00–1.02; p = 0.005), hospital-affiliated visits of 19% (95% CI = 1.14–1.24; p < 0.0001), and hospital admissions of 14% (95% CI = 1.09–1.20; p < 0.0001); and (c) 69% increased mortality hazard (95% CI = 1.30–2.18; p < 0.0001) in parents younger than 50 years with no comorbidities, albeit small in absolute numbers. Conclusion: Pediatric chronic diseases were negatively associated with parental employment, mental health, and mortality, and increased health care utilization.What is Known:• Studies on the impact of pediatric chronic diseases on parental health are qualitative.• Knowledge is unavailable regarding the impact on parental work, health care utilization, and mortality.What is New:• Among 13,769 parents with a chronically ill child and 138,606 control parents, parents with a chronically ill child had 37% increased antidepressant drug redemptions, and these parents <50 years without comorbidities had 69% increased mortality hazard.• Medical doctors should consider the parental health condition and societal challenges related to having child with a chronic disease.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Pediatrics
Pages (from-to)1547–1555
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.

    Research areas

  • Employment, Health care utilization, Mental health, Mortality, Parents, Pediatric chronic disease

ID: 291532562