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Child Health Care. 1984 Fall;13(2):52-8.

Heart surgery in infants: a preliminary assessment of maternal adaptation.


The present investigation was undertaken to determine the effects on the mother of having a child undergo heart surgery. Three groups of subjects were recruited and included mothers of infants undergoing heart surgery (Heart Surgery group), mothers of infants admitted on an emergency basis for nonsurgical/nonterminal illness (Inpatient Control), and mothers of infants visiting the pediatrician for well baby checks (Outpatient Control). Data were collected at three times: PRE, the day of admission; POST, the 7th day of admission or day of discharge (whichever came first); and FOLLOW-UP, 2 months after discharge. Relative to the other two groups, a differential attrition rate was evidenced in the Inpatient Control group and this finding is discussed. Given the attrition rate, analyses after PRE involved the Heart Surgery and Outpatient Control. Findings indicate that, relative to the Outpatient Control group, the Heart Surgery group reported greater distress at FOLLOW-UP than at any other time. The distress that was reported involved disruption in the family environment. Results of the analyses are discussed as consistent with posttraumatic stress theory.

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