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From uncertainty to gradually managing and awaiting recovery of a periodic condition- a qualitative study of parents´ experiences of PFAPA syndrom

Journal article
Authors Carina Sparud Lundin
Stefan Berg
Anders Fasth
Anna Karlsson
Per Wekell
Published in BMC Pediatrics
Volume 19
Issue 99
Pages 1-9
ISSN 1471-2431
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Medicine, Department of Rheumatology and Inflammation Research
Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Pediatrics
Institute of Health and Care Sciences
Pages 1-9
Language en
Keywords Periodic fever; PFAPA; Parents experiences; Grounded theory
Subject categories Other Medical Sciences


BackgroundThe prevalence of periodic fever, aphthous stomatitis, pharyngitis and cervical adenitis (PFAPA) syndrome is unknown. Although an uncommon condition, it is considered to be the most common autoinflammatory disease among children in many parts of the world. The knowledge of the consequences of the recurrent fever episodes for the child and its family are limited. This study explores the experiences of parents regarding the impact of the disease on the child's general well-being, the family's situation and how the family handles the associated challenges.MethodsA qualitative approach was used, applying a modified version of Grounded theory for design, data collection and analysis. Data was collected from two different sources: communication between parents of children with PFAPA in a closed Facebook group and face-to face interviews with one of the parents of children diagnosed with PFAPA (6 mothers and 2 fathers).ResultsParents described a lengthy process of how everyday life becomes affected by their child's recurrent fever episodes. This process is depicted in the following Grounded Theory core category: From uncertainty to gradually managing and awaiting recovery. The categories Uncertainty, Assurance, Gradually managing and Recovery describe the experienced illness trajectory. The illness representation illustrates the experiences/impacts of the periodic condition in the subcategories: Harmlessness-Severity, Disclosure of diagnosis, Impact on daily life and Regularity-Unpredictability. The children's well-being was highly affected by the symptoms during episodes. Parents experienced increased stress with constant fatigue, social constraints of family life and restricted career opportunities. Nevertheless, hope of recovery was constantly present.ConclusionsPFAPA is associated with a considerable burden on the child and the parents in daily life. Obtaining a diagnosis enables parents to move from a state of uncertainty towards a sense of coherence while awaiting recovery. Because of limited general knowledge of the condition and its impact on daily life, health care professionals need to become aware of the parents' efforts to mitigate the consequences of the recurrent episodes for the child and for the family as a whole.

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