The Impact of Observed Trauma on Parents in a PICU

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, 2016, 17 (4), pp. e154 - e158
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
© 2016 by the Society of Critical Care Medicine and the World Federation of Pediatric Intensive and Critical Care Societies. Objective: To explore parents' experiences of observed trauma, defined as traumatic events, unrelated to their own child, that parents/carers witness while in a PICU. Design: Exploratory qualitative study. Setting: Nineteen-bed mixed surgical/medical PICU in a tertiary university-affiliated children's hospital. Participants: Parents of 11 children, screened from a total sample of 100 children admitted to the PICU for greater than 48 hours. Interventions: Face-to-face screening interviews were conducted with parents following their child's discharge from PICU. Parents who reported observed trauma were interviewed a second time to explore their experiences. Measurements and Main Results: Two questionnaires were designed, one to screen for observed trauma and a second one to guide semistructured interviews. Of 100 parents who participated in a structured screening interview, 19% reported observed trauma. Of the 19 parents, 11 completed the second interview. Significant themes included: involuntary exposure; privacy and confidentiality; empathy for children and their families; reflection and personal growth; and staff communication. Conclusions: Observed trauma is not uncommon in the PICU. The results suggest that timely support may alleviate the short-term negative impact. Furthermore, some parents have reported positive aspects to their experience.
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