A double burden: Managing long-term conditions and psychological distress in young people

This week’s EBN Twitter Chat on Weds 3rd April between 8-9 pm (UK time) will be led by Dr Abbie Jordan (@drabbiejordan) and Sharon Bateman (@BatemanSharon) from the University of Bath. The chat will focus on psychological distress in young people with long-term conditions.  This Blog provides some context for the Chat. To join in the Chat add #ebnjc to your tweets.

Dr Abbie Jordan. Dept of Psychology.


A recently published report by the Nuffield Foundation highlighted that whilst adolescents and young adults comprise one-fifth of the UK’s population, rates of long-term health conditions in young people are particularly high in this age group (Shah, Hagell, & Cheung, 2019).  In fact, figures showed that, when compared with 15 similar countries, rates of long-term health conditions in young people in the UK were the third highest.  The long-term health conditions that young people experience are varied and can include juvenile arthritis, epilepsy, diabetes, cancer, asthma, non-malignant chronic pain in addition to other conditions.

As expected, managing a long-term health condition can be demanding for young people, yet these young people (and their families) often experience additional challenges.  Specifically, research has shown that young people who live with a long-term health condition also report high levels of physical disability (Pinquart & Teubert, 2012), difficulties with establishing and maintaining friendships (Jordan, Family, & Forgeron, 2017) and increased levels of psychological distress (Caes, Orchard, & Christie, 2017). For many, the experience of psychological distress is particularly challenging.  Understandably, managing psychological distress is an important focus for young people.  A recent report from a consultation event with young people about proposed content for the NHS long-term plan showed that 25% of young people requested improved youth focused mental health services to provide every day  crisis support (RCPCH, 2019).

Through this Twitter chat, we aim to explore some of the challenges that are faced by young people who live with long-term health conditions in terms of their comorbid experience of psychological distress and how we might address these challenges.  We are especially keen to hear all perspectives and hope to engage with young people and their families, clinicians and researchers.

During the chat we will be considering the following questions:

  • What are the key challenges that young people with long-term health conditions face in terms of psychological distress?
  • Why are some young people with long-term health conditions better able to manage their psychological distress than others?
  • How can clinical practice help to better support young people with long-term health conditions in terms of managing psychological distress?
  • How can research better address the needs of young people with long-term health conditions who experience psychological distress?


Caes, L., Orchard, A., & Christie, D. (2017). Connecting the Mind–Body Split: Understanding the Relationship between Symptoms and Emotional Well-Being in Chronic Pain and Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. Healthcare, 5(4), 93.

Jordan, A., Family, H., & Forgeron, P. (2017). Interpersonal relationships in adolescent chronic pain: A qualitative synthesis. Clinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology, 5(4), 303–318. https://doi.org/10.1037/cpp0000215

Pinquart, M., & Teubert, D. (2012). Academic, Physical, and Social Functioning of Children and Adolescents With Chronic Physical Illness: A Meta-analysis, 37(4), 376–389. https://doi.org/10.1093/jpepsy/jsr106

RCPCH. (2019). What do young people want in the NHS Long Term Plan ? Retrieved from https://www.rcpch.ac.uk/resources/what-do-young-people-want-nhs-long-term-plan

Shah, R., Hagell, A., & Cheung, R. (2019). International comparisons of health and wellbeing in adolescence and early adulthood. London. Retrieved from https://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/research/international-comparisons-of-health-and-wellbeing-in-adolescence-and-early-adulthood

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