Chronic disease in adolescence
Adolescence can be hard enough without the additional hassle of a chronic illness and the problems of transition from paediatric to adult services, say David O'Connor and Janet E McDonagh
- By: David O'Connor, Janet E McDonagh
Caught between childhood and adulthood, adolescence is a demanding but vital period of growing up. It brings many fresh challenges-new responsibilities, physical and emotional changes, and the establishment of stronger relationships beyond the family (box 1). However, for many, adolescence can mean mental ill health, alcohol and drug problems, unplanned pregnancy, and many other unwanted issues.1 Dealing with such problems requires support from friends, family, and other people who come into contact with young people, including doctors and health professionals.
Adolescence can be particularly challenging for people with a chronic disease. Not only must they negotiate their way through this demanding phase of maturation, they must do so while dealing with the additional impact of a chronic illness.2 At a time when most young people want to fit in with their peers, a chronic disease can single them out. For instance, treatment of diabetes may require insulin injections in school