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Keywords:

  • paediatric intensive care;
  • mothers;
  • impact;
  • critical illness;
  • children;
  • nursing;
  • evidence

The impact of knowing your child is critically ill: a qualitative study of mothers' experiences¶ Discussion in this paper is drawn from an exploratory study designed to elicit mothers' lived experiences of crisis and coping, and their experiences of nursing following the unexpected emergency admission of their child to the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU). An in-depth critique of literature supporting this study has been published. Two theoretical perspectives serve as a basis for this exploratory study: firstly, the idea that in a crisis situation, a mother's ability to cope and function is influenced by therapeutic interventions of nurses by meeting her needs in a holistic way; and secondly, symbolic interactionism, that focuses on the meaning of events to mothers. Data were elicited through focused interviews with 10 mothers of children aged between 3 months and 15 years who had been admitted unexpectedly to the PICU with a life threatening condition. Findings reveal the major impact of crisis on mothers immediately following their child's critical illness and admission to PICU, and this specific aspect therefore warrants in-depth discussion and analysis. The study did not generate a theory; however, important recommendations are made for nursing practice and research in relation to the impact of crisis experienced by mothers. Nursing practice issues include meeting the psychosocial needs of parents prior to and immediately after admission, and the importance of family-centred nursing care. Issues for nursing research include exploring how families cope with the impact of crisis and critical illness.