Background: The stress levels of parents of children with chronic illness/disability who were also involved in an enteral feeding programme were examined and compared to the stress levels of parents of healthy children and parents of children with other chronic illnesses reported in previous research.
Methods: Sixty-four parents who had a child with an enteral feeding tube completed the Parenting Stress Index (PSI).
Results: Based on criteria developed by Abidin (1995), 42.18% (n = 29) of these parents displayed high stress levels. T-tests revealed that Total Stress scores on the PSI of the parents of children involved in the enteral feeding programme were significantly higher than those reported in the sample of parents used to norm the PSI (P < 0.001), and comparison samples of parents of children with growth deficiencies (P < 0.001) and parents of children with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (P < 0.01). Compared to a sample of parents of children with Rett syndrome, the parents of children involved in the enteral feeding programme reported similar levels of stress on the Parent Domain of the PSI and significantly less stress on the Child Domain (P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Factors associated with the stress reported by parents of children with an enteral feeding tube were severity of their child's illness/disability, the constant caretaking demands placed on the parent, and the level of support provided by the parents' social network.