The quality of life of caregivers of children with atopic dermatitis in a South African setting

B Singh, Y Thandar, Y Balakrishna, A Mosam


Background. Atopic dermatitis (AD) is known to adversely affect patients’ quality of life (QOL). However, less is known about the extent to which caregivers are affected, particularly in developing countries. 

Objectives. To investigate factors affecting QOL in caregivers of children with AD in the South African (SA) setting and to document the associated effect of disease severity. 

Methods. This was a prospective study of 142 AD patients and their caregivers attending Grey’s Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal, SA, between May and September 2016. Disease severity was assessed according to the Objective Scoring of Atopic Dermatitis (Objective SCORAD) index. The Dermatitis Family Impact (DFI) questionnaire was used to assess QOL. 

Results. The study population included 119 (84%) black, 20 (14%) Indian and 3 (2%) coloured patients. Among the group, 44% of cases (n=62) were classified as mild, 53% (n=76) as moderate and 3% (n=4) as severe. The DFI score was significantly associated with the Objective SCORAD index (p<0.0001). QOL factors significantly affected were emotional distress of the caregiver (p<0.0001), tiredness of the caregiver (p<0.0001) and family leisure activities (p<0.0001). Involvement in treatment (p=0.016), food preparation and feeding (p=0.003), the family’s sleep (p=0.001) and the caregiver’s relationships (p=0.025) were moderately affected. 

Conclusion. The QOL of caregivers of children with AD in this setting was adversely affected and declined with increasing disease severity. An evaluation of the psychosocial health of caregivers and appropriate referral where necessary are important for holistic management of both the patient and the caregiver and to improve disease outcome.

Authors' affiliations

B Singh, Department of Dermatology, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

Y Thandar, Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Faculty of Heath Sciences, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa

Y Balakrishna, Biostatistics Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Durban, South Africa

A Mosam, Department of Dermatology, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

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South African Journal of Child Health 2019;13(2):61-66. DOI:10.7196/SAJCH.2019.v13i2.1544

Article History

Date submitted: 2019-06-24
Date published: 2019-06-24

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