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Growing Up With a Chronic Illness: Social Success, Educational/Vocational Distress

  • Gary R. Maslow
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to: Gary Maslow, M.D., Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 725 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, CB# 7590, Chapel Hill, NC 27599
    Affiliations
    Cecil B. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, Division of Health Affairs, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

    Department of Pediatrics, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina
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  • Abigail Haydon
    Affiliations
    Department of Maternal and Child Health, UNC Gillings School of Global Health, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

    Carolina Population Center, Division of Health Affairs, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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  • Annie-Laurie McRee
    Affiliations
    Department of Maternal and Child Health, UNC Gillings School of Global Health, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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  • Carol A. Ford
    Affiliations
    Department of Maternal and Child Health, UNC Gillings School of Global Health, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

    Department of Pediatrics, UNC School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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  • Carolyn T. Halpern
    Affiliations
    Department of Maternal and Child Health, UNC Gillings School of Global Health, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

    Carolina Population Center, Division of Health Affairs, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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      Abstract

      Objectives

      We compared adult educational, vocational, and social outcomes among young adults with and without childhood-onset chronic illness in a nationally representative U.S. sample.

      Methods

      We used data from Wave IV (2008) of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. We compared respondents who reported childhood-onset cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or epilepsy with young adults without these chronic illnesses in terms of marriage, having children, living with parents, romantic relationship quality, educational attainment, income, and employment. Multivariate models controlled for sociodemographic factors and adult-onset chronic illness.

      Results

      As compared with those without childhood chronic illness, respondents with childhood chronic illness had similar odds of marriage (odds ratios [OR] = .89, 95% CI: .65–1.24), having children (OR = .99, 95% CI: .70–1.42), and living with parents (OR = 1.49, 95% CI .94–2.33), and similar reports of romantic relationship quality. However, the chronic illness group had lower odds of graduating college (OR = .49, 95% CI: .31–.78) and being employed (OR = .56, 95% CI: .39–.80), and higher odds of receiving public assistance (OR = 2.13, 95% CI: 1.39–3.25), and lower mean income.

      Conclusions

      Young adults growing up with chronic illness succeed socially, but are at increased risk of poorer educational and vocational outcomes.

      Keywords

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