Current research status on the psychological situation of adults with congenital heart disease

Caroline Andonian, Jürgen Beckmann, Sabina Biber, Peter Ewert, Sebastian Freilinger, Harald Kaemmerer, Renate Oberhoffer, Lars Pieper, Rhoia Clara Neidenbach


Due to technological and medical advances the population of adults with congenital heart disease (ACHD) is growing. Worldwide, congenital heart disease (CHD) affects 1.35–1.5 million children each year and more than 90% reach adulthood. Given the heterogeneity of CHD, survivors are faced with not only complex medical but also psychological challenges which may manifest in mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder. This review focuses on the emotional dimension of CHD. More precisely, it summarizes the present state of research on the prevalence of emotional distress in ACHD. Theoretical models provide a framework for possible explanations of mental health issues in ACHD. Additionally, the review examines the relation between psychological processes and overall health considering the latest scientific findings on coping with chronic illness (illness identity). There is still insufficient knowledge on the psychosocial treatment of mental health issues in the growing population of ACHD. This review suggests a vital need to further investigate the psychological situation of ACHD on a large-scale basis in order to establish a holistic treatment approach to accommodate the patients’ special needs.