ChildLine report reveals extent of children's health fears

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 13 June 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:1766
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. London

    Children with a chronic illness, who are going through puberty, who wet the bed, or who have a sick parent feel depressed, miserable, worried, ashamed, and even suicidal, according to a review of callers to the free national telephone helpline, ChildLine.

    The extent of the embarrassment, distress, and anxiety that children feel about their own or their parents' health problems came as a surprise to the report's author, Dr Sheila Cross, a former paediatrician at North Middlesex Hospital and a ChildLine counsellor for seven years. In the report, I know you're not a doctor, but…, Dr Cross studied around 800 of the almost 2000 children who rang ChildLine in 1994-5 and 1996-7 about their health problems.

    She found that children suffering from asthma, diabetes, and other chronic illness sometimes fail to take their medicines because they do not want to be different from other children. “I know it's dangerous but I go out without my …

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