Increased prevalence of burnout symptoms in parents of chronically ill children


C Lindström, Department of Pediatrics, Örebro University Hospital, S-701 85, Örebro, Sweden. Tel: +46 19 60 23 314 | Fax: +46 19 18 79 15 |


Aim:  To examine the prevalence of burnout symptoms in the context of parenting a chronically ill child.

Methods:  A total of 252 parents of children with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus and 38 parents of children with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases participated in a population-based study. A control group consisted of 124 randomly selected parents of healthy children. We used self-report questionnaires to assess symptoms of burnout.

Results:  The main finding was that significantly more parents of children with chronic diseases (36%) scored for clinical burnout, compared with parents of healthy children (20%). Burnout symptoms were most prominent among mothers of children with diabetes, although fathers of children with diabetes and mothers and fathers of children with inflammatory bowel diseases also reported higher levels of various burnout symptoms.

Conclusion:  Burnout may be a useful model for understanding long-term parental responses and should be acknowledged among the different types of psychological consequences of the multi-faceted experience of parenting a child with chronic illness. Gender seems to influence the risk of burnout symptoms. Continued research about other background factors, and how the parents’ situation changes over time are warranted. In the clinic, we need to draw attention to the group of parents who may suffer from burnout.