The purpose of this study was to describe the support network of adolescents with a chronic disease from their own perspective. Data were collected by interviewing adolescents with asthma, epilepsy, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) and insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). The sample consisted of 40 adolescents aged between 13 and 17 years. Interview data were examined using content analysis. Six main categories were established to describe the support network of adolescents with a chronic disease: parents, peers, school, health care providers, technology and pets. Peers were divided into two groups: fellow sufferers and peers without a chronic disease. At school, teachers, school nurses and classmates were part of the support network. Health care providers included nurses, physicians and physiotherapists. Technology was also part of the support network and included four techniques that may be used to communicate: computers, mobile telephones, television and videos. The results provided a useful insight into the social network of adolescents with chronic disease and serve to raise awareness of the problems and opinions experienced by adolescents with this condition.
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