Grief response of parents after referral of the critically ill newborn to a regional center

N Engl J Med. 1976 Apr 29;294(18):975-8. doi: 10.1056/NEJM197604292941803.


Attitudes, feelings, and behavior were studied in 101 mother-father pairs whose critically ill newborn infants survived after referral from the hospital of birth to a regional neonatal intensive-care unit for special care. As measured by an anticipatory-grief score, most parents experienced grief reactions similar to those whose infants do not survive the newborn period. The level of anticipatory grief did not appear to be associated with severity of infant illness as determined by the need for respirator therapy or major surgical procedures. The fathers reported drastic alteration in daily activity while wife and infant were hospitalized in separate facilities, and they assumed a central role in maintaining family stability during the crisis. These data suggest that an organized family-support program could play a prominent part in maintaining family stability during the delivery of newborn intensive care.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety, Separation
  • Attitude
  • Critical Care*
  • Female
  • Grief*
  • Hospitals, Special
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases*
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Parents*
  • Pregnancy
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Surveys and Questionnaires