Most Cerebral Palsy Patients Are Happy Despite Daily Challenges, Greek Study Suggests

Most Cerebral Palsy Patients Are Happy Despite Daily Challenges, Greek Study Suggests

People with cerebral palsy generally are happy and satisfied with their lives despite the daily challenges they face, a recent study in Greece concluded.

The study, “Sense of Coherence in People with Cerebral Palsy in Greece,” was published in the journal Psychology.

Increasing evidence suggests that children with cerebral palsy have a low quality of life with several contributing factors, including the stress of parents, depression, and behavioral problems.

Also, less participation in physical activities and impaired social integration have been shown to affect patients’ health-related quality of life.

However, some studies reached contradictory conclusions, suggesting that results could be overly dependent on the methods used to evaluate children and adults with cerebral palsy, including different types of questionnaires.

Greek researchers evaluated the quality of life of people with cerebral palsy based on the concept of “sense of coherence” (SOC), a global orientation that reflects a person’s view of life and capacity to respond to stressful situations. It expresses the extent to which one perceives life as structured, manageable, and meaningful.

Sense of coherence is believed to be connected to people’s mental health but also to their physical well-being, and it directly affects quality of life.

Thirty-seven cerebral palsy individuals, ages 15 to 30, and their special educators responded to a 13-item version of the Sense of Coherence Scale.

This questionnaire covers several aspects of life in which lower scores mean a higher level of sense of coherence.

The possible scores of the SOC scale ranged from 13 to 91 points, with the general population scoring a mean of 52 points. The study’s participants were found to have a lower range score, between 13 and 78, and a mean score of 43.7.

About 70.3 percent of the patients scored less than 52, while 24.3 percent scored higher.

The reported SOC levels were found to be unaffected by age or gender, and even by the type of cerebral palsy. However, those affected by speech impairments were found to have lower mean SOC scores, while patients suffering from psychological-psychiatric disorders showed the opposite.

Collectively, these results suggest that people with cerebral palsy “are satisfied with their everyday life.” They are happy and can control their feelings, and don’t easily experience the emotion of disappointment. Also, they “can cope with unknown situations,” researchers wrote.

The team evaluated seven study participants based on guided interviews and observation of behaviors and compared the results with those obtained from the SOC scale.

During interviews, patients revealed difficulties in controlling their feelings, particularly anger and anxiety. They also said they were frequently disappointed by important people in their lives, frustrated, and unable to cope with unknown situations.

These findings are in contrast with those obtained by the SOC scale. However, these seven patients were found to be among the group that had higher SOC scores (a mean of 64.6 points), which in part can help explain this difference.

Importantly, researchers highlighted that the results of the interviews are subjective and may be influenced by the interrogator’s views and interpretation.

Additional studies are needed to further validate these findings and the use of the SOC scale to evaluate the quality of life of people with cerebral palsy, researchers said.