Stress experienced by parents from the neonatal intensive care unit
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The psychometric properties of this Parental Stressor Scale: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (PSS:NICU) were assessed, before using the scale to describe stress experienced by parents in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The extent to which parental stress from the parent-infant relationship in the unit was linked to parenting they received as a child, and adjustment to their couple relationship, was also examined. The sample consisted of 182 mothers and 183 fathers, who were in a cohabitating relationship, of infants from the NICU at Christchurch Women's Hospital. The self-report questionnaires included the PSS:NICU, Parental Bonding Instrument, and the Dyadic Adjustment Scale, and were administered to parents within 2-3 weeks of their infant's birth. This study extends the finding of satisfactory psychometric properties of the PSS:NICU (Franck, Cox, Allen & Winter, 2005; Miles, Funk & Carlson, 1993; Reid & Bramwell, 2003) to this New Zealand sample. Mothers experienced significantly higher stress from the unit compared to fathers (p < .01). A previous finding, for mothers, of the parent-infant relationship being the most stressful aspect of the unit (Franck et al., 2005; Reid & Bramwell, 2003; Shields-Poe & Pinelli, 1997) extends to the New Zealand sample. The most stressful aspect of the unit for fathers was sights and sounds. Lack of evidence was found for associations between parental stress from the parent-infant relationship in the unit and parenting received as a child, or adjustment to their couple relationship. A weak but significant negative correlation was, however, found between stress from the mother-infant relationship and maternal care received in childhood. It is unnecessary to provide all parents with intervention further to what is already being practiced in the unit, as overall low levels of stress were reported. Some parents, however, did find the unit more stressful, and they may benefit from increased intervention.