Objective: Children with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) experience daily challenges related to coping with symptoms and the psychosocial effect of this chronic disease. The aim of this study was to identify features of psychosocial dysfunction experienced by children with EoE who were evaluated in a tertiary care program.
Methods: We performed a retrospective review of EoE patients and their families’ psychosocial evaluations performed in a tertiary care EoE program. Consecutive evaluations were analyzed to document reports of patients’ disease-related pain/discomfort; feeding/appetite symptoms; sleep, social, and school problems; depression, anxiety; and overall psychological adjustment.
Results: Sixty-four patients received psychosocial evaluation during an 18-month period and were analyzed. Sixty-nine percent of children evaluated experienced some form of psychosocial problems, including social difficulties (64%), anxiety (41%), sleep difficulties (33%), depression (28%), and school problems (26%). Adjustment problems were identified in 44% of the sample. Older children experienced more adjustment difficulties than younger children (P = 0.05). Sleep disturbances and feeding problems predominated in the younger children. Anxious behavior and depressive feelings increased with age. Children with gastrostomy tubes (G-tubes) had more social, school, and psychological adjustment problems than those without.
Conclusions: The majority of children with EoE who underwent health and behavior evaluation in a tertiary care program experienced psychosocial adjustment and coping problems. Evaluation and management by mental health professionals would likely benefit a majority of patients with this chronic disease.