Parental stress in a paediatric intensive care unit in Punjab, India


  • Conflict of interest: None declared.

Correspondence: Dr Puneet Aulakh Pooni, 9/25 P.A.U. Campus, Ludhiana-141004, Punjab, India. Fax: 91 161 2302620; email:



Paediatric intensive care is a fast-growing specialty in India. There are studies on parental stress in paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) in developed countries, but limited data from developing countries, where many factors may be different, are available. This paper describes various stressors in Indian parents.


One hundred parents were interviewed using the Parental Stress Scale (PSS: PICU), which rates 22 factors on a scale from 1 (not stressful) to 5 (extremely stressful).


The average parental stress score was 3.0. The main causes of extremely stressful situations were: the parents' child having breathing difficulty; their child suffering pain; their child being unresponsive; crises in other children in the PICU. Factors least associated with stress included: not being alone with baby; and the presence of monitors and equipment. Nearly all parents (99) felt that prayer was of help. The majority (67) felt stressed during procedures, and 59 parents felt stressed by the sights and sounds of the PICU. Factors significantly related to increased stress included: the severity of illness as measured by higher paediatric risk of mortality scoring (P = 0.0136); for mothers rather than fathers (P = 0.0054): for parents <30 years (P = 0.0114); and parents of a male child (P = 0.0482).


It is concluded that there is significant stress among parents of children admitted to an Indian PICU, and stress factors are different from studies done in developed countries. Mothers and young parents were more stressed. Type of family, income, education, number and age of children did not affect level of stress.