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Psychosocial Challenges of Invasive Meningococcal Disease for Children and their Families

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Invasive Meningococcal Disease (IMD) is an uncommon but potentially severe illness that disproportionally affects babies, children, and adolescents and can cause significant disability. Such outcomes have devastating impact on families and caregivers. This study aimed to identify the current level of social work intervention in cases of IMD, identify how psychosocial needs are met during an IMD admission; and identify the opportunities for social workers to support and meet the needs of patients, families, and carers during an IMD admission and beyond. A mixed methods approach was employed including: a medical record review of IMD cases; semistructured interviews with families who had experienced a child or young person with an IMD diagnosis; and a structured interview with a key informant to explore the potential social work role. The results from this small study indicate that the psychosocial needs of family members may not be being adequately met, highlighting an opportunity for social workers to provide holistic assessment and support including crisis intervention, advocacy, and anticipatory guidance to those experiencing IMD and their families.


Invasive meningococcal disease can have devastating physical outcomes for the infected individual and those around them may endure psychosocial traumas with this sudden, severe illness.

Social workers can provide support at critical times during the medical emergency to reduce distress and improve communication to better support individuals and their families in the medical setting.

Continuing social work support may reduce long-term distress.
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Keywords: Invasive Meningococcal Disease; Psychosocial Issues; Social Work Intervention; Support

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Family and Community Services, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia 2: School of Health, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia 3: Hunter New England Local Health District, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

Publication date: October 2, 2018

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