12:28am Wednesday 03 June 2020

Mother-love helps young people with arthritis through the tough times


Those in their late teens and early twenties who suffer with inflammatory arthritis have to make difficult choices about whether to take powerful drugs that they may have to remain on for the rest of their lives.
But while they claim they make these decisions themselves, new research from Newcastle University and published in Rheumatology reveals that their mother is an important person in assisting them.   
Ruth Hart, from Newcastle University’s Institute of Health and Society, was research associate on the study involving young people aged 16-25 from three NHS hospital trusts, including Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.   
Research revealed that mothers ‘played a particularly prominent role, providing cognitive practical and emotional support’ and had a considerable influence on the young person’s treatment decisions. Partners played a much less important role in their network of relationships.
Ms Hart said: “Young people with inflammatory arthritis can have severe disease that warrants biological therapies.
“While these drugs can offer considerable short-term benefits, there are short-term risks and the long-term consequences remain uncertain, and this is of particular concern for those who begin taking them early in life.
“Young people offered biologics are confronted with a decision which may have profound consequences at a point when their disease is at its worst and their lives are characterised by change and uncertainty.”
It was clear that while young people claimed they made their own decisions about treatment, the study found that mothers often remained involved in a wide range of ways well into early adulthood, particularly – but not exclusively – where their son or daughter was diagnosed as a child.
The study found that mothers made appointments, took young people to hospital, ordered medication and prepared and administered injections. They also asked questions about drugs, did research, and discussed the pros and cons of treatment with their son or daughter.
Ms Hart added: “Mothers additionally offered emotional support to confront an important decision at a difficult time, essentially ‘being there’ for young people, and providing reassurance, comfort and encouragement.”
Being clear about who is involved in decision-making, and taking into account these important relationships, is essential for health professionals if they are to help young people become independent at a pace appropriate to their individual needs, researchers concluded.
Twenty-five people were interviewed for the study, plus 11 ‘trusted others’ such as mothers, and six health professionals.
Mothers featured prominently in stories of making and enacting decisions in around three-quarters of cases. The majority of these young people were living with their mother at the time of the research.


Key Facts:

  • Newcastle University is a Russell Group University
  • Ranked in the top 1% of universities in the world (QS World University Rankings 2014)
  • Ranked 16th in the UK for global research power (REF 2014)
  • Ranked 22nd in The Sunday Times 2015 Good University Guide
  • Amongst our peers Newcastle is:
    • Joint 6th in the UK for student satisfaction
    • Ranked 1st in the UK for Computing Science research impact, 3rd in the UK for Civil Engineering research power and 11th in the UK for Mathematical Sciences research (REF 2014)
    • Ranked 8th in the UK for Medical and Life Sciences research quality (REF 2014)
    • Ranked 3rd in the UK for English, and in the top 12 for Geography, Architecture and Planning, and Cultural and Media Studies research quality (REF 2014)
    • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) top 20 strategic partner
  • 93.7% of our students are in a job or further training within six months of graduating
  • We have a world-class reputation for research excellence and are spearheading three major societal challenges that have a significant impact on global society. These themes are: Ageing, Sustainability, and Social Renewal
  • Newcastle University is the first UK university to establish a fully owned international branch campus for medicine at its NUMed Campus in Malaysia which opened in 2011
  • Our international students put Newcastle University in the world’s top 50 (ISB 2013) of global universities.
  • Newcastle University Business School is one of 20 Triple Accredited Business Schools in the UK

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