The impact of a child's unexpected hospitalization upon Taiwanese parents' situational anxiety

Yun-Shan Tseng, The University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston


Background. The parents of a sick child likely experience situational anxiety due to their young child being unexpectedly hospitalized. The emotional upheaval may be great enough that their anxiety inhibits them in providing positive support to their hospitalized child. Because anxiety affects psychological distress as well as behavioral distress, identifying parental distress helps parents improving their coping mechanisms. Purpose. The study compared situational anxiety levels between Taiwanese fathers and mothers and focused on differences between parental anxiety levels at the beginning of the child's unplanned hospitalization and at time of discharge. The study also identified factors related to the parents' distress and use of coping mechanisms. Methods. A descriptive, comparative research design was used to determine the difference between the anxiety levels of 62 Taiwanese father-mother dyads during the situational crisis of their child's unexpected hospitalization. The Mandarin version (M) of Visual Analog Scale (VAS-M), State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI-M), and the Index of Parent Participation/Hospitalized Child (IPP/HC-M) were used to differentiate maternal and paternal anxiety levels and identify factors related to the parents' distress. Questionnaires were completed by parents within 24-36 hours of the child's hospital admission and within 24 hours prior to discharge. A paired t-test, two sample t-test, and linear mixed regression model were used to test and support the study hypothesis. Results. The findings reveal that the mothers' anxiety levels did not significantly differ from the fathers' anxiety level when their child had a sudden admission to the hospital. In particular, parental state anxiety levels did not decrease during the child's hospital stay and subsequent discharge. Moreover, anxiety levels did not differ between parents regardless of whether the child's disease was acute or chronic. The most effective factor related to parental situational anxiety was parental perception of the severity of the child's illness. Conclusions. Parental anxiety was found to be significantly related to changes in their perception of the severity of their child's illness. However, the study was not able to illustrate how parental involvement in the child's hospital care was related to parental perception of the severity of their child's illness. Future studies, using a qualitative approach to gamer more information as to what variables influence parental anxiety during a situational crisis, may provide a richer database from which to modify key variables as well as the instruments used to improve the quality of the data obtained.

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Recommended Citation

Tseng, Yun-Shan, "The impact of a child's unexpected hospitalization upon Taiwanese parents' situational anxiety" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3362678.