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Behavior and Self-Perception in Children with a Surgically Corrected Congenital Heart Disease

Miatton, Marijke PhD*; De Wolf, Daniël MD, PhD; François, Katrien MD; Thiery, Evert MD§; Vingerhoets, Guy PhD*

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: August 2007 - Volume 28 - Issue 4 - p 294-301
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e3180cabc3c
Original Article

Objective: We sought to combine parental and child reports in order to describe the behavior, self-perception, and emotional profile of children with a surgically corrected congenital heart disease (CHD).

Methods: Forty-three children with a surgically corrected CHD were selected and compared to an age- and sex-matched healthy group. The parents of the CHD children completed a behavior rating scale, the Child Behavior Checklist. Children 8 years and older (n = 23) completed a self-report questionnaire concerning perceived competence, their anxiety level, and feelings of depression.

Results: Compared to parents of healthy children, those of CHD children report significantly lower school results (p < .01), more school problems in general (p < .01), and a higher percentage of their children repeated a school year (p < .01). They also reported more social (p < .01) and attention problems (p < .01) and more aggressive behavior (p < .05). On self-perception and state anxiety questionnaires, no significant differences were found between the patient group and the healthy group. On a depression scale, however, children with a surgically corrected CHD reported more depressive feelings than healthy controls (p < .01).

Conclusion: Parents of children with CHD rate their child's school competence to be weaker than healthy peers, they report more attention and social problems and more aggressive behavior. Children themselves did not report differences on perceived competence or anxiety but they do indicate more depressive symptoms than healthy peers.

From the *Laboratory for Neuropsychology, Department of Internal Medicine; †Pediatric Cardiology, Department of Pediatrics; ‡Pediatric Cardiac Surgery, Department of Surgery; §Reference Centre for Refractory Epilepsy, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.

Received October 2006; accepted May 2007.

Address for reprints: Miatton Marijke, D.Psych., Laboratory for Neuropsychology, Ghent University, De Pintelaan 185, 4 K 3, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium; e-mail:

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.