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Keywords:

  • adolescent;
  • child;
  • congenital heart disease;
  • drawings;
  • ventricular septal defects

Abstract

Background

Congenital heart disease is common yet poorly understood in childhood. We reviewed the understanding of older children and adolescents with the commonest congenital heart defect, namely, a small ventricular septal defect (VSD), through a questionnaire and/or their drawings of their abnormality.

Methods

As part of a wider study, older children and adolescents with a small VSD were asked to draw a picture of their cardiac defect in addition to completing a questionnaire.

Results

Twelve of an initial cohort of 20 participants, who were between the ages of 8 and 20 years, completed a drawing of their malformation. Further drawings were obtained from five additional participants recruited from a private practice over the next few years. There were almost equal number of male and female participants overall. Nearly all participants had a limited understanding of their cardiac abnormality as reflected by their drawings. Nevertheless none reported restricting their physical activity.

Conclusion

While most older children and adolescents did not seem to have a clear understanding of their small VSD, it did not appear to affect their daily activity. The participants placed a greater reliance on the information provided by their parents rather than their doctor, emphasizing the importance of informing both the parents and the patient.