The present article examines some theoretical questions and reviews recent findings concerning the implications of physical chronic disease in childhood. The emotional consequences of the disease to the child and the child's family, in particular to the child-mother relationship are analyzed. Furthermore, family difficulties when dealing with an ill child and the possible risks to his/her adjustment are discussed. Despite the medical advances in the treatment of childhood physical chronic diseases and the increase on survival rates of these children, there are few studies on the emotional and family implications of a physical chronic disease in childhood. The reviewed studies suggest that important changes in family relationships may happen when a child has a physical chronic disease, such as parental stress, social isolation, overprotective behavior, and increased risk of psychological maladjustment to the child, his/her parents, as well as to his/her brothers and sisters.
Physical chronic disease; childhood; family relationship