Post-traumatic growth in parents after a child's admission to intensive care: maybe Nietzsche was right?

Intensive Care Med. 2009 May;35(5):919-23. doi: 10.1007/s00134-009-1444-1. Epub 2009 Feb 19.


Objective: The aim of this prospective study was to establish the degree to which parents report post-traumatic growth after the intensive care treatment of their child.

Design: Prospective cross-sectional cohort study.

Setting: Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

Subjects: A total of 50 parents of children, admitted to PICU for >12 h.

Measurements and results: Parents provided stress ratings as their child was discharged from PICU and, 4 months later, completed postal questionnaires rating their anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress and post-traumatic growth. As much as 44 parents (88%) indicated on the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI) [1] that they had experienced a positive change to a great degree as a result of their experiences in PICU. Parents of children who were ventilated (P = 0.024) reported statistically higher post-traumatic growth as did parents of older children (P = 0.032). PTGI scores were positively correlated with post-traumatic stress scores at 4 months (P = 0.021), but on closer inspection this relationship was found to be curvilinear.

Conclusions: Post-traumatic growth emerged as a salient concept for this population. It was more strongly associated with moderate levels of post-traumatic stress, than high or low levels.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Germany
  • History, 19th Century
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intensive Care Units / statistics & numerical data*
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • Parents*
  • Patient Admission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sickness Impact Profile
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Young Adult

Personal name as subject

  • Friedrich Nietzsche