Mothers are not fathers: differences between parents in the reduction of stress levels after a parental intervention in a NICU
Article first published online: 11 DEC 2012
©2012 The Author(s)/Acta Pædiatrica ©2012 Foundation Acta Pædiatrica
Volume 102, Issue 1, pages 8–14, January 2013
How to Cite
Matricardi, S., Agostino, R., Fedeli, C. and Montirosso, R. (2013), Mothers are not fathers: differences between parents in the reduction of stress levels after a parental intervention in a NICU. Acta Paediatrica, 102: 8–14. doi: 10.1111/apa.12058
- Issue published online: 11 DEC 2012
- Article first published online: 11 DEC 2012
- Accepted manuscript online: 16 OCT 2012 10:41AM EST
- Manuscript Accepted: 12 OCT 2012
- Manuscript Revised: 2 AUG 2012
- Manuscript Received: 7 MAR 2012
Vol. 102, Issue 3, 327, Article first published online: 5 FEB 2013
- Parental intervention;
- Parents stress;
- Preterm infants
The study examined the effects of a parental intervention to reduce parents’ stress levels during the hospitalization of their very preterm infants in a NICU, taking into account possible differences between mothers and fathers.
Parents of infants born ≤32 weeks gestational age (GA) were randomly assigned to a standard support group (N = 21) or intervention group (N = 21). The intervention was based both on a joint observation method and infant massage provided by both parents. Parents’ stress was assessed by the Parental Stressor Scale: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, after the first week of admission and at the infant's discharge.
At discharge, intervention group parents showed significantly lower levels of stress related to infants’ appearance/behaviour and to parental role alteration (PRA) than those of the standard support group (p = 0.000). Overall, mothers reported more stress compared with fathers (p ≤ 0.05). The intervention was effective in reducing the stress-role alteration in mothers (p < 0.05), but not in fathers.
Mothers reported more stress compared with fathers, above all for PRA. A parental intervention was effective in reducing stress-role alteration in mothers, but not fathers. Parental interventions should take into account that help for fathers could be different from help for mothers.