BACKGROUND: End-stage renal disease (ESRD) leads to the need for dialysis and renal transplantation (Tx). Peritoneal dialysis (PD) of young children is normally performed at home by the parents and affects the whole family. We studied the coping of families with a young child with ESRD by interviewing the parents of 19 children. METHODS: The spousal and parent-child relationships were assessed by using the Psychosocial Assessment of Childhood Experiences (PACE) and the Brief Measure of Expressed Emotion, respectively. A control group of 22 families with a healthy child was used for the parent-child relationship evaluation. RESULTS: The spousal relationship at the start of PD was good or fairly good in most of the families and remained good in half of the families following renal Tx. Lack of support from close relatives and renal Tx were associated with a poorer relationship quality. Almost all parents expressed much or fairly much emotional warmth towards the child throughout the study, but there was a trend towards increased criticism over time. No differences in the degree of expressed warmth or criticism were noted between the index parents and controls. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, the study families appeared to cope well despite the serious illness of their child and the demands of the treatments.
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