Being a mother of a critically sick child: issues for nursing practice and research



Having to cope with sudden and critical illness in a child is considered to be one of the most stressful of all parenting experiences, yet the nursing literature contains few qualitative accounts of how mothers cope with this crisis. This study aimed to describe ten mothers’ experiences of crisis, coping and nursing following their child’s emergency admission to a paediatric intensive care unit (PICU). Using a qualitative grounded theory approach, data were elicited through focused interviews with ten mothers. Four research questions were considered:
  1. 1.

    What are the physical needs of parents?

  2. 2.

    What are the psychological needs of parents?

  3. 3.

    To what extent are the physical and psychological needs of parents being met?

  4. 4.

    To what extent are parents involved in the care of their child?

Findings reveal that mothers could clearly identify their needs. They felt that their physical needs were met but that their psychological care was inconsistent. Mothers were involved in various aspects of caring for their children. Issues for nursing practice and research are highlighted.


Critical Illness Parental Stress Paediatric Intensive Care Unit Nursing Practice Sick Child 
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