Date of Award

Fall 1991

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




This study was conducted to increase the understanding of parental stressors in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Nurses need to understand stressors in order to plan intervention strategies aimed toward assisting and supporting the parent in adapting to the unexpected birth and subsequent hospitalization of their premature child . Mother-father pairs of fifteen premature infants hospitalized in a Level III NICU were interviewed to determine the sources of parental stress in the NICU . Data were collected using the Miles Parental Stressor Scale: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (PSS:NICU), the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI}, and personal-social information elicited from an investigator- designed data sheet. Means and standard deviations of experienced stress and overall stress on the PSS:NICU were obtained to determine which situations incur higher levels of stress. Relationships between parent and infant variables and scores on the PSS:NICU and STAI were examined. Items found to incur the highest levels of stress were those associated with altering the parental role, sights and sounds of the NICU environment, and the infant's appearance. Parents' age and length of infant stay at the time of the interview had a significant correlation with the total score on the PSS:NICU. Implications for nursing intervention strategies are identified based upon the research findings.