Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit


  • Wendy Ward-Begnoche

    1. Wendy Ward-Begnoche, PhD, is Assistant Professor and Co-Director of Training, Section of Pediatric Psychology, Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR.
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PURPOSE. Children who experience acute injury or illness severe enough to result in a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) stay are at risk for posttraumatic stress symptoms, as are their parents. A distinction is made between injury-related traumatic events, illness-related traumatic events, and treatment-related traumatic events, all of which contribute to this risk.

CONCLUSIONS. This paper reviews what the PICU experience is like for children and their parents, the emerging literature on posttraumatic stress symptoms in PICU patients and their parents, and current knowledge regarding risk and resiliency factors for these children.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS. Children hospitalized in the PICU should be monitored for posttraumatic stress disorder during and after their stay. Risk and resiliency factors are a focus for practice and for future research.