Psychological Outcomes in Pediatric Patients with VADs and Their Families

Psychological Outcomes in pediatric patients with ventricular assist devices and their families: A systematic review” was published in Pediatric Transplantation on Mar 11, 2021. 

This systematic review of literature identified studies utilizing both quantitative and qualitative measures of psychosocial health in pediatric VAD patients and their families. 

Key takeaways:
  • Since 2010, only 16 studies were identified. Nine were published within the last 5 years.
  • Mostly small sample sizes (3-22 pts). 
  • 3 studies suggested quality of life for pediatric VAD patients is comparable to healthy peers and/or patients with other cardiac conditions.
  • Caregiver stress, burden, and worries related to discharge/caring for patients at home were common.
  • Psychiatric symptoms and diagnoses found to be common in pediatric VAD patients, particularly adjustment disorders, anxiety and depression. They persisted almost six months post-implant.
  • Common patient-specific concerns: worries about discharge home, physical experience/discomfort with VAD (size of device in body).
Why this matters:

Quality of life assessments alone are unlikely to capture the experience of VAD patients. These findings highlight the importance of mental health screening and treatment, VAD education, and bolstering parent/caregiver support. 

How do we move forward? Larger, multicenter collaborations—such as ACTION’s PRO initiative—are needed to better understand patient and family psychosocial outcomes, including risk and resilience factors. 

ACTION is excited to develop next steps, routine assessment, and intervention. Three ACTION leaders (below) worked with Kelly Rea from the University of Georgia’s Department of Psychology to publish this important review!:

  • Melissa Cousino, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital
  • Amanda McCormick, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital
  • Heang Lim, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital

Rea KE, McCormick AM, Lim HM, Cousino MK. Psychosocial outcomes in pediatric patients with ventricular assist devices and their families: A systematic review. Pediatr Transplant. 2021 Jun;25(4):e14001. doi: 10.1111/petr.14001. Epub 2021 Mar 11. PMID: 33704884; PMCID: PMC8141009.