Parental Stress and Coping during the Hospitalization of a Child Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Jones, Carolyn
    • Affiliation: School of Nursing
  • Background: Having a child hospitalized in an intensive care unit is a stressful experience for parents. Some parents choose to write about their experiences in publically available weblogs posted on the Internet. These blogs can provide rich insight into the stressors encountered by families with an ill child, and how they use their emotional and physical resources to cope with those stressors. Method: Using the Transactional Model of Stress and Coping as a framework, 20 blogs written by parents while their child was hospitalized were identified using purposive sampling techniques. The blogs were analyzed using thematic narrative analysis, looking for stressors identified by the parents as well as ways they coped with the stressors. The following four research questions were addressed: (1) What stressors do parents report in blogs? (2) What coping strategies are identified by parents? (3) How do the stressors and coping strategies described by parents change over the course of their infant or child’s hospitalization? and, (4) Is there evidence in the blogs to support or challenge the supposition that secondary appraisal leads to problem- and emotion-focused coping strategies? Findings: Analysis demonstrated the identification of stressors and coping strategies within the text of the blogs. Five categories of stressors were found in the narratives: child-related, hospital-related, information, parenting, and self. Both emotion-focused and problem-focused categories of coping mechanisms were discovered. Emotion-focused techniques were used most often and categories included accepting, avoiding, maintaining hope, reframing, utilizing logic, and valuing. Problem-focused coping strategies included creating, providing, seeking and taking. These strategies were more often used later in the hospitalization and often in response to child-related stressors. Early in the hospitalization, parents described multiple stressors with no coping response documented. As the hospitalization progressed, identification of a stressor was more likely to be followed directly by a behavior or event, which appeared to be a coping strategy. The blog author’s appraisal and reappraisal of stressors was often implicit in the text, therefore it was difficult to isolate. Conclusions: Blogs provided a rich source of information related to stressors encountered by parents while their child was hospitalized, as well as ways they coped with those stressors. This information can lead to a deeper understanding of the experiences of families with a sick child, and to the development of ways to help parents cope. Improved coping can lead to better outcomes for families who experience the critical illness of a child.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Van Riper, Marcia
  • Travers, Debbie
  • Glazier, Jocelyn
  • Zomorodi, Meg
  • Lynn, Mary
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2015
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
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