Parents as informal caregivers of children and adolescents with spinal muscular atrophy: a systematic review of quantitative and qualitative data on the psychosocial situation, caregiver burden, and family needs


BACKGROUND: Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a rare degenerative neuromuscular disease, mostly occurring in infants and children, leading to muscle wasting and weakness, and premature death. Due to new developments of multiple disease-modifying treatments within the last years, the interest of research in patients affected by SMA increased steadily. However, the psychosocial situation of parents as informal caregivers is still rarely addressed.

OBJECTIVES: This review aims to highlight quantitative and qualitative data about the psychosocial situation, caregiver burden, and needs of parents as informal caregivers for children and adolescents with SMA.

METHODS: A systematic literature review was performed including quantitative and qualitative original studies focusing on different psychosocial aspects and outcomes for parents of children and adolescents < 21 years of age with SMA type I-IV (PROSPERO; registration number CRD42020219020). We searched the following databases in November 2020 with a research update in August 2021: MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO and Web of Science.

RESULTS: In total, 24 articles from 23 studies were selected for inclusion (15 quantitative studies, 7 articles from 6 qualitative studies, 2 mixed methods studies). The synthesis of included studies shows multiple sources of psychosocial burden for parents of children and adolescents affected by SMA: Most studies found reduced levels of quality of life, moderate to high levels of caregiver burden and distress, as well as physical and mental health symptoms. Further, findings indicate several unmet family needs regarding information, care coordination, treatment decisions, financial support, and adequate supportive care services.

CONCLUSION: Parents of children and adolescents with SMA face multiple sources of psychosocial stressors, caregiver burden and various unmet family needs. To unburden families, the needs of parents as caregivers should be included in integrated care paths for SMA to improve their psychosocial situation and thus their ability to care for their children and to treat or prevent physical and mental health problems due to overburdening. Future research should focus not only on quality of life and on caregiving-related burden but should also examine the clinical relevance of reported symptoms to support the implementation of adequate support services for families affected by SMA.

Bibliografische Daten

StatusVeröffentlicht - 19.07.2022

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© 2022. The Author(s).

PubMed 35854387