Quality of Life Research

, Volume 28, Issue 9, pp 2471–2480 | Cite as

Posttraumatic stress and health-related quality of life in parents of children with cardiac rhythm devices

  • Helene WernerEmail author
  • Christian Balmer
  • Phaedra Lehmann



Studies have shown a high prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) among parents of children with life-threatening diseases. However, it is yet unknown whether parents of children with cardiac rhythm device develop posttraumatic stress symptoms or even PTSD.


This cross-sectional investigation is part of a comprehensive single-center study of long-term medical and psychosocial outcomes in pediatric patients with pacemaker (PM) and implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). 69 patients (78%) were included in the study, with the participation of 69 mothers and 57 fathers. Parents completed the Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale and Medical Outcomes Study Short Form-36 item questionnaire. Child’s medical data was collected retrospectively from patients’ hospital records.


At assessment, the patients (39% females) were on average 11.2 years old. The predominant device type was PM in 56 cases (81%). The mean time since device implantation was 6.3 years (SD = 4.3). Full heart-disease related PTSD was diagnosed in one mother and no father, while partial heart-disease-related PTSD was diagnosed in 3 mothers (4%) and 2 fathers (4%). Parental HRQoL—especially regarding the mental health dimension—was affected in both parents. In both parents, total PTSD symptom severity scores were a significant predictor for mental health summary scores after controlling for child age at implantation, presence of other non-cardiac disease in the child, parental age, and presence of own chronic disease.


Special attention should be given to parental PTSD symptoms in the clinical follow-up of PM and ICD patients as some parents might probably benefit from psychological support.


Cardiology Arrhythmia Pacemaker Implantable cardioverter defibrillator Parents Childhood 



We thank Silvia Hilfiker, Karin Steinmann and Alina Rüegg for patient recruitment and data collection.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helene Werner
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  • Christian Balmer
    • 2
    • 4
  • Phaedra Lehmann
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Psychosomatics and PsychiatryUniversity Children’s HospitalZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Cardiology, Pediatric Heart CentreUniversity Children’s HospitalZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of Child and Adolescent Health Psychology, Institute of PsychologyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  4. 4.University Children’s HospitalChildren’s Research CenterZurichSwitzerland

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