The paper by Lisanti et al. describes the research conducted by University of Pennsylvania Nursing School fellows. They collected “maternal and infant demographics and responses to the Parental Stressor Scale: Infant Hospitalization and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory” from three major pediatric cardiac intensive units across the United States. The study examined the stress experienced by mothers of infants with complex congenital heart disease (CCHD) during and after neonatal open-heart surgery. The study is designed to assess the hypothesis that mothers experience significant amounts of stress while their children are hospitalized in the PCICU. It is one of the first studies to examine the maternal response to stressors in the intensive care unit.
Two main research questions posed by Lisanti et al. include “What are the parental stressors for mothers whose infants with CCHD are in the PCICU?” and “What are the relationships of trait anxiety and three parental stressors to the parental stress response of state anxiety in mothers whose infants with CCHD are in the PCICU?” The study confirms that mothers perceive “stressors from parental role alteration, infant appearance and behavior, and sights and sounds of the PCICU.” Research also reveals that due to competing responsibilities, mothers with more than one child experience more stress than those with only one hospitalized infant. Maternal state anxiety is higher for mothers less than one week after their child’s neonatal cardiac surgery compared to anxiety scores obtained more than one week postoperatively.
When it comes to the quantitative design of the study, the authors chose correlational research in order to describe the relationship between trait anxiety, stressors, and stress response from mothers with children undergoing neonatal open-heart surgery. Without assumptions, researchers aimed to examine the natural patterns of correlation using mathematical analysis methods (to help establish a relationship between the variables). Apart from trait anxiety and stress levels, the study also collected maternal and infant demographics, including age, race, and level of education of every participant. The correlational method has helped researchers to establish infant appearance and behavior and appearance is the biggest stressor for mothers, followed by parental role alternation. It has also helped to reveal that mothers who tend to experience more stress are those who have more than one child and are in their first week of hospitalization.