Date of Award

Spring 2016

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Honors Bachelor of Arts


Interdisciplinary Studies


Dr. Kasandra Riley

Committee Member

Dr. Stacey Dunn

Committee Member

Dr. Anne Stone


Just under 1% of infants are born with a heart defect [congenital heart disease (CHD)], and as a result of treatment and early diagnosis, 85% of these children survive into adulthood. Few studies have investigated the quality of life, global happiness, and athletic participation in pediatric populations, especially with respect to those who have CHD. In 2010, the number of people aged 0-18 years who had CHD was estimated to be between 1,905,000 and 2,102,000, and there are varying qualities of life that these children experience based on disease severity. In addition to patients who are born with CHD, children who are overweight or obese can develop similar cardiac problems. Many of these children are still under the supervision of their parents and, therefore, unable to make their own health choices. Given the severity of the effects stemming from CHD, it is crucial that physicians are able to communicate information regarding disease effectively and clearly to patients and families. In addition to physicians, hospitals should be an important avenue for families to have access to resources such as exercise programs, health classes, and family education, which are not available elsewhere in the community. By gaining insight into the wellness needs of the specific population that visits the Heart Institute at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora, Colorado, a program can start to be developed to provide resources specifically tailored to patients and educate them on ways to increase quality of life and healthy living.