Parents' experiences of their child's admission to paediatric intensive care

Nurs Child Young People. 2015 May;27(4):16-21. doi: 10.7748/ncyp.27.4.16.e564.


Background: Admission of a child to the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) may be one of the most stressful events for parents because the outcome is often uncertain. So how do parents cope, and how can we as nurses help them?

Aim: To explore the lived experiences of parents whose children have been admitted to a PICU.

Methods: Using Heidegger's school of interpretative phenomenology, six unstructured interviews were conducted. These were transcribed and analysed following interpretative phenomenological analysis. Participants were chosen through purposive sampling.

Findings: Each participant had different emergent themes. Themes included trauma, responsibility, anxiety about where the child is, post-traumatic stress symptoms and transfer to the ward.

Conclusion: The lived experience of a parent is fraught with varying different emotions, with the beginning of the journey and the ending of the PICU admission causing the most anxiety.

Keywords: Child health; children’s nursing; family-centred care; intensive care; parents.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety
  • Child
  • Child, Hospitalized / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parents / psychology*