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BACKGROUND: Encephalitis, characterised as inflammation of the brain tissue, is an important cause of acquired brain injury in children. Objective clinical outcomes vary significantly between affected patients, however they do not always correlate with quality of life as reported by parents. The aim of this study was to explore how parents experience and interpret outcomes in relation to their child who has been affected by encephalitis. METHODS: Data were derived from in-depth, semi-structured interviews, with 15 parents of 12 children and young people affected by encephalitis. Paediatric cases were identified from the retrospective arm of the research programme 'ENCEPH-UK-Understanding and Improving the Outcome of Encephalitis', and from the prospective UK childhood meningitis and encephalitis cohort study (UK-ChiMES, 2012 to 2016). Data were analysed thematically. RESULTS: Parents' perspectives on important outcomes for their child and family changed during the different stages of the encephalitis illness trajectory: from acute illness, recovery and rehabilitation, then reintegration into everyday life. Parents' understanding of their children's overall outcome was informed by their own experiences, involving comparisons with other children and reflections on their child's problems before, during and after the acute illness. CONCLUSION: Outcomes in paediatric encephalitis need to be understood in terms of the context of the patient and family experience as well as the timeframe of recovery. The research highlights the need to include more patient, parent and/or carer reported outcome measures during patient assessment, and that assessment should be repeated during recovery as family concerns change. In the longer term, these parameters could be included in clinical and rehabilitation practice to further support child recovery.

Original publication

DOI

10.1371/journal.pone.0220042

Type

Journal article

Journal

PLoS One

Publication Date

2019

Volume

14