European Journal of Pediatrics vol:165 issue:11 pages:767-72
INTRODUCTION: Although summer and sports camps for children with congenital heart disease are organized in many countries and regions, empirical data on the effects of such camps is limited. OBJECTIVES: The aim of the present study was to investigate changes in the perceived health status and habitual physical activities in children attending a special sports camp. MATERIALS AND METHODS: In this longitudinal study, 25 children with congenital heart disease who participated in a three-day multi-sports camp were included. The perceived health status was measured using the Child Health Questionnaire-Child Form, CHQ-CF87, completed by the child at the start of the camp (T1), at the end of the camp (T2), and 3 months after the camp concluded (T3). Habitual physical activities were assessed by means of a modified version of the Baecke questionnaire, which was completed by one of the parents at T1 and T3. RESULTS: During the sports camp, we observed significant improvements in the children's perception of their physical functioning, role-physical functioning, general health, role-emotional functioning, self-esteem, mental health, and general behavior. For physical functioning, role-emotional functioning, and family activities, high scores persisted three months after the sports camp concluded. The habitual physical activities (sport and leisure time) of the children remained unchanged. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: In conclusion, we propose that a special sports camp for children with congenital heart disease may improve specific dimensions of subjective health status. Our study confirms a previous report on the benefits of such camps for afflicted children. If these findings can be further corroborated in other settings, participation in sport camps should be advocated as a simple, noninvasive means to promote healthier children.