The impact of an individualised neonatal parent support programme on parental stress: a quasi-experimental study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Aim: To evaluate the impact on parental stress of an individualised neonatal parent support programme. Method: A quasi-experimental design. Parents of preterm infants, at a level II NICU, were consecutively assigned to a control group (n = 130) and to an intervention group (n = 101). The programme focused on person-centred communication and consisted of four individual nurse–parent dialogues during the infants’ hospitalisation. The Swedish version of the Parental Stressor Scale: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was used to assess parental stress. Result: The total stress scores did not vary significantly between the control and intervention groups either for mothers or for fathers. However, on item-level, some items were significantly more distressed for mothers in the control group compared to the intervention group; other sick babies being cared for in the room (p = 0.016); my baby's unusual or abnormal breathing patterns (p = 0.025); not being able to hold my baby (p = 0.014); sometimes forgetting what my baby looks like (p = 0.042); being afraid of touching or holding my baby (p = 0.030); feeling the staff is closer to my baby than I am (p = 0.006). Comparing stress between mothers and fathers in the control group demonstrated a significant higher overall stress level for mothers compared to fathers (p < 0.005). The same result was found in the subscales Infant's behaviour and appearance (p = 0.016) as well as Parental role alteration (p = 0.001). No significant differences revealed between parents in the intervention group except for one item not being able to feed the babies themselves. It was significantly more distressed for mothers (p < 0.001). Conclusion: In this study, there was a decreased stress experience on item level in different subscales amongst mothers, but the study did not demonstrate any impact of the intervention on total stress experience either for mothers or for fathers.


External organisations
  • Skåne University Hospital
  • Central Hospital Kristianstad
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


  • parental stress, parental support programme, person-centred communication, PSS:NICU
Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2019 Feb 8
Publication categoryResearch

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