Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms in Caregivers and Children with Hydrocephalus

Academic Article


  • Objective: Hydrocephalus is a disorder of cerebrospinal fluid dynamics, traditionally treated by placement of a ventricular shunt. Shunts are effective but imperfect as they fail in an unpredictable pattern, and the patient's well-being is dependent on adequate shunt function. The omnipresent threat of shunt failure along with the potential need for invasive investigations can be stressful for patients and caregivers. Our objective was to measure post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) in children with hydrocephalus and their caregivers. Methods: A cross-sectional analysis of children with hydrocephalus and their caregivers was conducted. Caregivers completed a measure of their own PTSS (the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders Checklist for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders−V) and resilience (the Connor Davidson Resilience Scale). Pediatric patients rated their own PTSS and resilience using the Acute Stress Checklist for Kids and Connor Davidson Resilience Scale. Results: Ninety-one caregivers completed the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders Checklist for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders−V. Mean score was 17.0 (standard deviation 15.7; median 13.0). Fourteen percent scored above 33, the threshold suggestive of a preliminary diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. There was a statistically significant association between caregiver post-traumatic stress and marital status, child's race, and caregiver education. More than half (52%) of caregivers reported their child's hydrocephalus as the most significant source of their PTSS. Children did not have markedly elevated levels of PTSS. Forty-one percent of caregivers and 60% of children scored in the lowest resilience quartile compared with the general population. Conclusions: Results from this study suggest that post-traumatic stress affects caregivers with hydrocephalus, yet levels of resilience for caregivers and pediatric patients are low.
  • Published In

  • World Neurosurgery  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Zimmerman K; May B; Barnes K; Arynchyna A; Chagoya G; Alford EN; Wessinger CA; Dreer L; Aban I; Johnston JM
  • Start Page

  • e66
  • End Page

  • e73
  • Volume

  • 148