PARENTAL STRESS AND ITS INFLUENCING FACTORS IN THE NEONATAL INTENSIVE CARE UNIT
Background: Elevated stress in parents of infants hospitalized in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is noted to exacerbate fear and uncertainty. Identifying parental stress levels and their contributing factors may assist health care professionals to identify causes of stress and provide early focused interventions. The aim of this study was to assess the level of stress and its related factors among parents of infants admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional design and convenience sampling were used to identify parents of infants admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The study used a validated instrument, The Parental Stressor Scale: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit survey, to collect data, which was analyzed using IBM-SPSS version 20.
Results: A total of 104 parents completed the survey. The results showed that stress was higher among mothers than fathers. There was a significant mean difference between educational level and parental stress on the subscales ‘infant appearance’ and ‘behavior’ (p=0.010).
Conclusion: This study revealed that mothers experienced a higher level of stress, and infants’ appearance and behavior was associated with stress and parental education level. These findings may be useful in strategizing targeted measures to assist in facilitating parents’ coping in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and raising awareness of the likelihood of gender differences in stress responses between fathers and mothers.Keywords: Parental stress, neonatal intensive care, stressors, Malaysia