Purpose: To describe the stressful experiences of Chinese-American parents who have an infant in the intensive care unit (ICU), and to assess the influence of acculturation, parents' characteristics, and social supports on parental stress.
Design: A cross-sectional, descriptive, correlational study.
Sample/setting: A convenience sample of 30 Chinese-American families (30 mothers, 25 fathers) who had an infant hospitalized in 3 ICU sites in the San Francisco area.
Methodology: Measures included: (1) Infant's health data from the medical records and parents' demographic data, and (2) Parental Stressor Scale: Infant Hospitalization, Suinn-Lew Asian Self-Identity Acculturation Scale, and Family Support Scale.
Main outcome measure: The dependent variable was mothers' and fathers' stress levels. Independent variables included personal/family characteristics, acculturation, uncertainty regarding infants' illness, and social supports.
Principal results: The ICU stressors were ranked by both mothers and fathers in the following order: infant's appearance, parental role alteration, staff communication and behaviors, and ICU environment. The combined effects of uncertainty about their infant's illness and its future impact, a strong belief in Asian family values, and lack of support from healthcare providers accounted for 26% and 55% of the variance in parental stress for mothers and fathers, respectively.
Conclusions: Findings from this study suggest implications for the education of both families and the ICU staffs.