Parental anxiety and stress during children's hospitalisation: the StayClose study

J Child Health Care. 2011 Sep;15(3):163-74. doi: 10.1177/1367493511408632.


The aims of this pilot study were to assess anxiety and stress in parents of children admitted to hospital and identify influencing factors, and assess the feasibility and acceptability of the methodology to parents and hospital staff. Parents of 28 children hospitalised for at least 3 days completed questionnaires assessing psychological functioning after admission, 16 and 13 of whom completed questionnaires at discharge and 3 months after discharge, respectively. Almost two-thirds of parents scored in the borderline/clinical range for anxiety at baseline and discharge. Higher anxiety scores were associated with the use of self-blame, lower optimism scores, higher levels of illness-related uncertainty and a greater number of previous hospital stays. Three months after discharge, 38% had borderline/clinical levels of anxiety, with scores significantly correlated with those at baseline and discharge. Although parents were willing to participate, and the questionnaires were acceptable, this pilot study identified some practical and logistical difficulties that will be addressed in the next phase of the study. Parents experience substantial stress and anxiety when their child is hospitalised. Screening for those at high risk for anxiety and implementing interventions to reduce uncertainty and maladaptive coping strategies may be beneficial.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / diagnosis*
  • Child
  • Child, Hospitalized / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Patient Discharge
  • Pilot Projects
  • Psychometrics
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors