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Psychosocial adaptation in adolescents and young adults with Marfan syndrome: an exploratory study.
  1. A Van Tongerloo,
  2. A De Paepe
  1. Department of Medical Genetics, University Hospital Gent, Belgium.

    Abstract

    We conducted a pilot study to evaluate the psychological effects and consequences of Marfan syndrome in 17 patients between 16 and 35 years of age. Through a semi-structured interview, we investigated how the patients coped daily with Marfan syndrome and evaluated the impact of the disease on specific items such as schooling, occupational choices, self-image, and social behaviour. A second part of the study consisted of a battery of standardised psychological tests to evaluate the patients' anxiety and depression levels and coping styles. The following psychological tests were used: State and Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and the Utrecht Coping List (UCL). The interviews showed that the disease represented a significant burden on the daily physical activities of the patients, as well as on their schooling and job opportunities. During childhood, most of them were insensitively teased by peers because of their typical phenotypic features. This had its consequences on their social behaviour in that they are all more introvert. In the female patients, the risk associated with child bearing represented a major concern. Most patients emphasised the need for accurate information about the illness immediately after knowing the diagnosis and all found psychological support helpful. Depression and anxiety levels were higher in the female than in the male group, without being significantly different from the normal population. Nevertheless, most patients have come to terms with their disease and consider themselves happy most of the time.

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