A qualitative study exploring the experiences of parents of children admitted to seven Dutch pediatric intensive care units

Intensive Care Med. 2011 Feb;37(2):319-25. doi: 10.1007/s00134-010-2074-3. Epub 2010 Nov 10.


Purpose: To explore parents' experiences during the admission of their children to a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).

Method: Qualitative method using in-depth interviews. Thematic analysis was applied to capture parents' experiences. Thirty-nine mothers and 25 fathers of 41 children admitted to seven of the eight PICUs in university medical centers in The Netherlands were interviewed.

Results: Parents were interviewed within 1 month after their child's discharge from a PICU. Thematic analysis identified 1,514 quotations that were coded into 63 subthemes. The subthemes were categorized into six major themes: attitude of the professionals; coordination of care; emotional intensity; information management; environmental factors; parent participation. Most themes had an overarching relationship representing the array of experiences encountered by parents when their child was staying in a PICU. The theme of emotional intensity was in particular associated with all the other themes.

Conclusions: The findings provided a range of themes and subthemes describing the complexity of the parental experiences of a PICU admission. The subthemes present a systematic and thematic basis for the development of a quantitative instrument to measure parental experiences and satisfaction with care. The findings of this study have important clinical implications related to the deeper understanding of parental experiences and improving family-centered care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric / standards*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Young Adult