Date of Award

Spring 1992

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Brown, Ardene J.

Second Advisor

Malin, Michele

Third Advisor

Miller, Judith


Using Miles and Carter's framework for assessing parental stress, this exploratory qualitative study examined the stresses parents experience associated with their child's admission to the hospital through the Emergency Department. The convenience sample consisted of nine parents whose children were admitted with various medical diagnoses: rule out sepsis, asthma, bronchiolitis, pneumonia, cellulitis, and gastroenteritis. Every parent identified that their Emergency Department visit was stressful, and every parent was eager to discuss their Emergency Department experience. Thematic content analysis of the transcribed audiotaped interviews revealed consistent themes of parental stress: communication with staff; concern for the child; length of stay in the Emergency Department; parental role alteration; procedures; and the child's appearance. Implications for nursing include the need for: continued face-to-face follow-up with parents of children admitted to the hospital through the Emergency Department; hospital staff education regarding communication skills in order to improve staff-parent communications; a Call-A-Nurse Program; nursing to work collaboratively with other disciplines on strategies to reduce repeat questions and the length of stay in the Emergency Department; time studies to fully assess reasons for delays in the Emergency Department; consistent communication about possible waits to parents; critical re-examination of practices which restrict parental involvement in their child's care; and the implementation and evaluation of interventions that encourage parents to maintain autonomy in their child's care.



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