Mothers, fathers, and the crisis of newborn intensive care



At hospital discharge of their infant from a newborn intensive care unit, 50 mothers and fathers were interviewed and completed questionnaires. There were significant within-couple correlations for appraisals of the harm that ensued from this crisis, perceptions of personal control over the infant's recovery, and expectations about the infant's future health and development. Mothers perceived more personal control, mobilized more social support, and used more escapist coping strategies than did fathers. Mothers and fathers exhibited different patterns of relations between their own coping strategies and emotional well-being. But, neither the coping strategies used by one's spouse nor differences between spouses in the use of individual coping strategies correlated with emotional well-being. Analysis of parents' perceived differences between their own and their partner's coping strategies suggested the possibility of mutually helpful, complementary strategies of coping with this problem.