We carried out an in-depth evaluation of psychosocial status in a sample of 18 children (mean age 6.8 yr, range 4.4-10.8 yr) who had suffered from severe liver disease and undergone orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT). Mean age at OLT was 3.4 yr. The assessment was psychoanalytically oriented and included individual sessions and testing procedures for children--the Children Apperception Test (CAT), the Weschsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-R), the Weschsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WIPPSI), and the Human Figure Test--and a semi-structured interview with a separate questionnaire for parents. Patients were compared with an age- and gender-matched control group. The main findings in patients compared with controls were: IQ 91.6 (range 70-117) vs. 118 (range 94-135) (p<0.0001); immaturity of ego and drives (72.2% vs. 27.7%; p=0.018), fear of death (61.1% vs. 11.1%; p=0.04), anxiety of loss (50%, vs. 27.7%; p=NS), and depressive feelings (61.1% vs. 22.2%; p=0.04); a mild defect of body image (44.4% vs. 33.3%; p=NS) associated with recurrent representations of motionless (72.2% vs. 38.8%; p=NS) and inexpressive (88.8% vs. 16.6%; p<0.0001) human figures. Fantasies about OLT as a 'magic rebirth' or a 'body transformation' were detected in few patients (30%). Although a recurrent set of feelings, conflicts, and fantasies about OLT were expressed by children, individual specific psychological responses to this experience were often detected. In spite of the fact that approximately 50% of the parents mentioned emotional or behavioral disturbances of their child, only three parents were seriously concerned about this problem. The theme of transplantation was most often absent from communication between the child and their parents. Our results suggest that psychic 'working through' of the chronic liver disease and OLT experience is difficult for children. Further studies are necessary to verify whether changes of parental attitude to OLT as a 'family secret' may facilitate integration of the OLT experience in the child's personality development.
|Titolo:||Psychological impact of liver transplantation on children's inner worlds|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2001|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|