All Children's Hospital Logo

Health Information

Search Health Information   

Psychological Complications of Chronic Illness

Adolescence, alone, is a stressful developmental process even for physically healthy teens. Chronic illness occurring during adolescence further complicates adolescent development. The chronic disorder, treatment requirements, hospitalization, and surgery (when necessary) all intensify concerns about physical appearance, interfere with the process of gaining independence, and disrupt changing relationships with parents and friends. Also, adolescent developmental issues complicate a teen's transition toward taking responsibility for managing their illness and learning to comply with recommended treatment.

Developmental complications of chronic illness:

Adolescents who are faced with acute or chronic illness are more likely to experience increased concerns and fears when their illness or healthcare needs conflict with the following normal developmental issues:

Non-compliance with medical treatment and teens:

As adolescents with chronic illness learn more about their illness and are encouraged to take responsibility for its management, attempts to make their own decisions about management are common. Trials of decreasing their medication or not taking it without consulting a physician often occur. While this behavior may be developmentally normal, it may create the need for additional healthcare intervention. Angry or self-conscious feelings related to having a chronic illness, or poor judgment in how to cope with their feelings about their illness, might also affect compliance with recommended treatment or management techniques. For example, adolescent diabetics are more likely to use poor judgment in making food choices when they are with their friends. It is important for parents and healthcare professionals working with adolescent patients to help the adolescent develop emotionally healthy ways of living with their chronic illness and its management requirements. Some ways to help adolescents deal with the complications which chronic illness often imposes on development may include the following:

Transplant-related issues and adolescents:

The need for an organ transplant is difficult to understand, accept, and cope with for anyone. The emotional and psychological stress impacts all family members.

For adolescents who are developing the ability to think in new ways and explore new thoughts, the idea of facing transplantation stimulates thoughts, concerns, and questions about their bodies, their relationships, and their lives.

Important factors in helping adolescents cope effectively with a transplantation experience include the following:

Click here to view the
Online Resources of Child & Adolescent Mental Health

Additional Info

Pocket Doc Mobile App
Maps and Locations (Mobile)
Programs & Services
For Health Professionals
For Patients & Families
Contact Us
Find a Doctor

All Children's Hospital
501 6th Ave South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 898-7451
(800) 456-4543

Use Normal Template
© 2015 All Children's Hospital - All Rights Reserved