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Matern Child Nurs J. 1989 Fall;18(3):199-206.

The pediatric intensive care unit environment as a source of stress for parents.

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University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.


Parents of children hospitalized in one of five midwestern pediatric intensive care units (ICU) were interviewed about the stress experienced from aspects of the ICU environment. Subjects were 324 mothers and 186 fathers of 350 children. Data were collected using the Parental Stressor Scale: Pediatric ICU which assesses seven dimensions of the environment: Child's Behavior and Emotions, Child's Appearance, Sights and Sounds, Procedures, Staff Communication, Anomie, and Parental Role Alteration. The dimensions Child's Behavior and Emotions and Parental Role Alteration were found to be the most stressful aspects of the experience. The items from the dimension Child's Behavior and Emotions that were most stressful were seeing my child in pain, seeing the child frightened and sad, and the inability of the child to communicate with the parent. The items from the Parental Role Alteration dimension with the highest stress scores were: feeling unable to protect my child and not knowing how to best help my child. Findings suggest that alterations in the parent-child relationship are more stressful than aspects of the physical environment. In particular, feeling helpless in the parenting role is a great source of stress for parents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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