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Psychological and physical health outcomes in adults with craniosynostosis

Stock, Nicola Marie; Costa, Bruna; Wilkinson-Bell, Karen; Culshaw, Laura; Kearney, Anna; Edwards, Wendy

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Nicola Stock
Occasional Associate Lecturer - HAS - HSS

Karen Wilkinson-Bell

Laura Culshaw

Anna Kearney

Wendy Edwards


Objectives: Within current research, little is known about the long-term outcomes of craniosynostosis. A priority-setting exercise by UK charity Headlines Craniofacial Support identified two key questions in this area: 1) What are the long-term physical and psychological effects for individuals with syndromic and non-syndromic craniosynostosis? and 2) Are individuals with craniosynostosis likely to suffer from mental health difficulties, or are they more resilient? The aim of the current study was to conduct an initial investigation of these priority questions.
Methods: A comprehensive UK-wide survey consisting of nine standardised psychological outcome measures and open-ended questions was distributed online. Thirty-six eligible adults (69.4% female) with a mean age of 30.8 years responded to the survey. Participants reported having single suture craniosynostosis (27.8%) or syndromic craniosynostosis (52.8%), with 19.4% being unsure of their diagnosis. Sample means were compared to published norms using independent samples t-tests. Qualitative responses were analysed using inductive content analysis.
Results: Compared to the general population, participants reported significantly less favourable scores related to appearance concerns, attachment in adult relationships, anxiety, optimism, and resilience. Self-worth, depression, and social anxiety scores were similar to norms. Qualitative responses provided additional insight into participants’ satisfaction with appearance, physical health, medical treatment, employment, relationships, and recurrence risks. Few participants had accessed psychological support.
Discussion: This preliminary study illustrates the potential long-term implications for individuals with craniosynostosis. Improved treatment protocols are needed to address physical health concerns in adulthood, while dedicated psychological resources are necessary to promote emotional wellbeing, social confidence, and resilience.


Stock, N. M., Costa, B., Wilkinson-Bell, K., Culshaw, L., Kearney, A., & Edwards, W. (in press). Psychological and physical health outcomes in adults with craniosynostosis. Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 27, 2021
Online Publication Date Dec 6, 2021
Deposit Date Oct 29, 2021
Publicly Available Date Dec 17, 2021
Journal Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal
Print ISSN 1055-6656
Electronic ISSN 1545-1569
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Craniosynostosis, adult, mental health, physical health, treatment, visible difference
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