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Keywords:

  • anxiety;
  • depression;
  • hospitalised neonates;
  • incidence;
  • parents;
  • related factors

Aims and objectives

To investigate the prevalence of anxiety and depression in parents of hospitalised neonates and to analyse their relationship with other factors such as stress and social support, to provide evidence for targeted clinical interventions.

Background

The perinatal period, a special susceptibility to negative emotions, is a period that women and their spouses have to face. In this time, the fact that the neonates have to be hospitalised is no doubt a huge psychological stress to their parents. Little understanding of the hospitalisation environment, lacking awareness of neonatal diseases as well as concerns about the neonates' safety, can easily lead to negative emotions in parents. Under the influence of negative mood, parents could become irritable and vulnerable, which may do harm to their physical and mental health, impact family harmony and even result in ineffective communication with doctors, affecting the care of neonates.

Design

This study applied a cross-sectional study design.

Methods

The psychological status of 600 parents (400 fathers and 200 mothers) was assessed in the first week of the hospitalisation of neonates, using the Self-Rating Anxiety Scale, Self-Rating Depressive Scale, Social Support Rating Scale and Perceived Stress Scale.

Results

The results of the cross-sectional survey showed that 20% of fathers and 24% of mothers had symptoms of anxiety, while 30·8% of fathers and 35% of mothers had depressive symptoms. The total scores for anxiety and depression in these parents were significantly higher than the normal population (< 0·01). The level of social support and perceived stress were the most important factors relating to parental anxiety and depression.

Conclusion

Parents of hospitalised neonates are more prone to suffer from negative emotions than normal population. Anxiety and depression are common emotions in these parents. However, the social support they receive is far from satisfactory, so timely and effective nursing interventions are essential.

Relevance to clinical practice

Health professionals should understand the mental health of parents with hospitalised neonates and take measures to reduce their psychological pressure so as to improve their care of the neonates, and help to maintain the harmony and stability of families and the whole society.