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Kathrin Zimmerman, Bobby May, Katherine Barnes, Anastasia Arynchyna, Elizabeth N. Alford, Gustavo Chagoya, Caroline Arata Wessinger, Laura E. Dreer, Inmaculada Aban, James M. Johnston, Curtis J. Rozzelle, Jeffrey P. Blount, and Brandon G. Rocque


Hydrocephalus is a chronic medical condition that has a significant impact on children and their caregivers. The objective of this study was to measure the quality of life (QOL) of children with hydrocephalus, as assessed by both caregivers and patients.


Pediatric patients with hydrocephalus and their caregivers were enrolled during routine neurosurgery clinic visits. The Hydrocephalus Outcomes Questionnaire (HOQ), a report of hydrocephalus-related QOL, was administered to both children with hydrocephalus (self-report) and their caregivers (proxy report about the child). Patients with hydrocephalus also completed measures of anxiety, depression, fatigue, traumatic stress, and headache. Caregivers completed a proxy report of child traumatic stress and a measure of caregiver burden. Demographic information was collected from administration of the Psychosocial Assessment Tool (version 2.0) and from the medical record. Child and caregiver HOQ scores were analyzed and correlated with clinical, demographic, and psychological variables.


The mean overall HOQ score (parent assessment of child QOL) was 0.68. HOQ Physical Health, Social-Emotional Health, and Cognitive Health subscore averages were 0.69, 0.73, and 0.54, respectively. The mean overall child self-assessment (cHOQ) score was 0.77, with cHOQ Physical Health, Social-Emotional Health, and Cognitive Health subscore means of 0.84, 0.79, and 0.66, respectively. Thirty-nine dyads were analyzed, in which both a child with hydrocephalus and his or her caregiver completed the cHOQ and HOQ. There was a positive correlation between parent and child scores (p < 0.004 for all subscores). Child scores were consistently higher than parent scores. Variables that showed association with caregiver-assessed QOL in at least one domain included child age, etiology of hydrocephalus, and history of endoscopic third ventriculostomy. There was a significant negative relationship (rho −0.48 to −0.60) between child-reported cHOQ score and child-reported measures of posttraumatic stress, anxiety, depression, and fatigue. There was a similar significant relationship between caregiver report of child’s QOL (HOQ) and caregiver assessment of the child’s posttraumatic stress symptoms as well as their assessment of burden of care (rho = −0.59 and rho = −0.51, respectively). No relationship between parent-reported HOQ and child-reported psychosocial factors was significant. No clinical or demographic variables were associated with child self-assessed cHOQ.


Pediatric patients with hydrocephalus consistently rate their own QOL higher than their caregivers do. Psychological factors such as anxiety and posttraumatic stress may be associated with lower QOL. These findings warrant further exploration.