‘This battle, between your gut feeling and your mind. Try to find the right balance’: Parental experiences of children with spinal muscular atrophy during COVID-19 pandemic

I L B Oude Lansink, P C C van Stam, E C W M Schafrat, M Mocking, S D Prins, A Beelen, I Cuppen, W-L van der Pol, J W Gorter, M Ketelaar

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Abstract

Aims: Parents of children with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) often struggle with the all-consuming nature of the demands of caring for a child with substantial physical needs. Our aim was to explore experiences, challenges and needs of parents of a child with SMA in a COVID-19 pandemic situation. Method: Nineteen parents of 21 children (15 months to 13 years of age) with SMA types 1–3 participated in semi-structured interviews in June to July 2020. The interviews were analysed using inductive thematic analysis. Results: Parents mentioned the protection of the health and well-being of the child as the central perspective and driving force during the COVID-19 pandemic. Three subthemes were identified: (1) responsibility, (2) balancing vulnerability and resilience and (3) (in)security. Some parents focused on the positive aspects during the lockdown, such as continuation of nusinersen treatment and family life. Some parents described helpful and positive cognitions to cope with the situation. In general, parents described a need for information with regard to COVID-19 and their child with SMA and a need for discussing their dilemmas and insecurities with a healthcare professional. Interpretation: Parents put the health and well-being of their children first during the pandemic. From this study, we learned that parents of children with SMA need information and value direct contact with a healthcare professional to share their dilemmas and insecurities. The dialogue can help to empower parents in the conflicts and decisions they have to make during a pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1062-1070
Number of pages9
JournalChild: Care, Health and Development
Volume48
Issue number6
Early online date20 Apr 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • decision making
  • family
  • parenting
  • spinal muscular atrophy
  • well-being

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