Concluding Comments

Children and adolescents face a wide variety of chronic physical conditions that may impinge on their development and their emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and social functioning (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 2009). Because improvements in medical and surgical care have led to increased rates of survival of children and adolescents with these illnesses, more attention is being paid to the factors that influence coping and adaptation. Noncategorical approaches to the study of this topic suggest that children with different illness types, with the exception of those illnesses affecting the central nervous system, do respond in a predictable and uniform way to the stress of their diseases. Particularly relevant factors to consider include coping style, developmental level, previous illness or medical experiences, and temperament, as well as interactions with their families. The development of models to explain adaptation and coping have helped to inform research efforts and to provide a framework for further investigations to explore both risk factors and resilience in the physically ill child.

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