Acculturation and stress in Chinese-American parents of infants cared for in the intensive care unit

Adv Neonatal Care. 2005 Dec;5(6):315-28. doi: 10.1016/j.adnc.2005.08.011.


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.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation*
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Asian Americans / psychology*
  • Child, Hospitalized*
  • China / ethnology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • San Francisco
  • Social Support
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*