Learning Objective 1: 288,879 Taiwanese children were admitted to the hospital in 2010, very little is known about parental experiences when facing their children’s unexpected hospitalization in Taiwan.
Learning Objective 2: Because anxiety affects psychological distress as well as behavioral distress, identifying parental distress helps parents improving their coping mechanisms.
Methods: A comparative research design was used. The Mandarin versions of Visual Analog Scale, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and the Index of Parent Participation/Hospitalized Child were used to differentiate parental anxiety levels and identify factors related to their distress. Questionnaires were completed by parents within 24-36 hours of the child’s hospital admission and within 24 hours prior to discharge. A paired t-test, two sample t-test, and linear mixed regression model were used to test and support the study hypothesis.
Results: The mothers’ anxiety levels did not significantly differ from the fathers’ anxiety levels when their child had an unexpected hospitalization. Particularly, parental state anxiety levels did not decrease during the child’s hospital stay and subsequent discharge. The anxiety levels did not differ between parents regardless of whether the child’s disease was acute or chronic. The most effective factor related to parental situational anxiety was parental perception of the severity of the child’s illness.
Conclusion: Parental anxiety was found to be significantly related to changes in their perception of the severity of their child’s illness. The study was not able to illustrate how parental involvement in the child’s hospital care was related to parental perception of the severity of their child’s illness. Future studies using a qualitative approach may provide richer information from which to modify key variables as well as the instruments used to improve the quality of the data obtained.