The purpose of this study was a description of sources of stress and stress symptoms over time for mothers with a child in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and a comparison with mothers with a child in a general care unit (GCU). The sample contained 31 PICU mothers and 32 GCU mothers who were studied during four time periods over 6 months using the Parental Stressor Scale: PICU and the Symptom Checklist-90-Revised. Findings showed all the PICU mothers were stressed from the total intensive care experience and the use of monitors. PICU mothers experienced more stress symptoms than the GCU mothers did during all four time periods. This is valuable information because nurses should know how mothers of critically ill children feel and what stresses them in order to help the mothers and teach them about what changes to expect in themselves. Nursing practice must enable parents to continue in their family roles to be effective and therapeutic to their children.
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