Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The use of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in children and adolescents as an outcome criterion to evaluate family oriented support for young carers in Germany: an integrative review of the literature

Jörg große Schlarmann*, Sabine Metzing-Blau and Wilfried Schnepp

Author Affiliations

Institute of Nursing Science, Witten/Herdecke University, Stockumer StraSSe 12, 58453 Witten, Germany

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:414  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-414

Published: 17 December 2008

Abstract

Background

Young people below the age of 18, whose lives are affected by looking after a relative with a disability or long-term illness, are called young carers. Evidence based family oriented support for young carers and their families in Germany is currently being developed. To allow for scientific evaluation, an outcome criterion needs to be chosen. Until today, there are no assessment instruments available, which focus on young carer's specific demands and needs. As HRQOL seems to be an adequate alternative outcome criterion, an integrative review of the literature was carried out to verify this assumption.

Methods

The aim of the integrative review was to get information about a) the concept and the common definition of HRQOL in children, b) preferable HRQOL assessment techniques in children, and c) the relevance of HRQOL measures for the population of young carers. An additional aim of the review was to give advice on which instrument fits best to assess young carer's HRQOL in Germany. Searches were conducted in PubMed in order to obtain papers reporting about a) the development or psychometric assessment of instruments measuring HRQOL in children and adolescents up to the age of 18, and b) on the conceptual framework of HRQOL in children.

Results

HRQOL is a multidimensional construct covering physical, emotional, mental, social, and behavioural components of well-being and functioning as subjective perceived by a person depending on the cultural context and value system one is living in. Young carer's problems and needs are well covered by these common domains of HRQOL. Since no specific HRQOL-measures are available to address young carers, a generic one has to be chosen which a) has been created for use in children, b) allows self- and proxy-report, and c) has good psychometric testing results. Comparing four generic measures with currently best published psychometric testing results, items of the KIDSCREEN cover young carer's specific problems most accurate.

Conclusion

The KIDSCREEN questionnaires seems adequate to evaluate the intervention as their items cover young carer's needs and problems most accurate.