Background The psychosocial functioning of caregivers of adolescents managing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has been understudied; yet, poor caregiver functioning can place youth at risk for compromised disease management. The current study addressed this limitation by examining a sample of caregivers of adolescents with IBD. Study aims included (1) documenting rates of paediatric parenting stress; (2) identifying associated sociodemographic predictors of parenting stress; and (3) comparing previously published rates of parenting stress to those within other paediatric chronic conditions, including cancer, type 1 diabetes, obesity, sickle cell disease, bladder exstrophy.
Methods Caregivers of adolescents with an IBD diagnosis (Mage= 15.4 ± 1.4, 44.4% female, 88.7% Caucasian) and receiving tertiary care within a gastroenterology clinic (n= 62) completed the Pediatric Inventory for Parents (PIP) as a measure of paediatric parenting stress with frequency and difficulty as PIP subscales. Paediatric gastroenterologists provided disease severity assessments.
Results Adolescents with IBD were experiencing relatively mild disease activity. Bivariate correlations revealed that PIP-difficulty was positively associated with Crohn's disease severity (r= 0.38, P < 0.01). Caregiver age was negatively associated with the frequency of parenting stress total (r=−0.25, P= 0.05) and communication scores (r=−0.25, P < 0.05). The frequency and difficulty of parenting stressors within the IBD sample were similar to rates within type 1 diabetes, but were significantly lower than rates identified in other paediatric chronic conditions.
Conclusions Caregivers of adolescents with IBD seem to experience low rates of parenting stress when their adolescents are receiving outpatient care and during phases of IBD relative inactivity. The sociodemographic characteristics of IBD families (i.e. primarily Caucasian, well-educated and higher socio-economic status) likely encourage greater access to financial and psychosocial resources, which may aid in promoting more optimal stress management.