Caregiver mental health and family health outcomes following critical hospitalization of a child

Patricia S Tomlinson, Bonnie Lee Harbaugh, Joan Kotchevar, Laura Swanson

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22 Scopus citations


Changes in care giver and family health and in family health behavior patterns were examined 9 weeks after the hospitalization of a child for an acute, first-time illness in a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). Family and caregiver health included reports of physical, mental, role, and social functioning as well as perceptions of health, pain, and changes in health behavior patterns at 3-7 days after admission to PICU and 9 weeks later. A convenience sample of 20 primary caregivers (all mothers) of children aged 2 days to 17 years served as subjects for the study. Results showed a decrease in mental health scores of all subjects over the 9-week period. Further, those care-givers whose child was rated as having a greater potential for chronicity had a significantly greater decline and were in the range of poor mental health at the 9-week posttest. Seventy percent of subjects reported new health problems in the family posthospitalization, and 43% reported at least one change in family health behavior patterns. Implications for testing the efficacy of mental health nursing consultation and case management during and after critical childhood illness are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)533-545
Number of pages13
JournalIssues in Mental Health Nursing
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1995

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Received 16 January 1995; accepted 6 May 1995. The study was supported in part by a grant from the Bean Foundation, Minneapolis Children’s Medical Center, to Patricia Short Tomlinson and Mark Kirschbaum. Address correspondence to Patricia Short Tomlinson, FW, PhD, 6-101 HSLJF, 308 Harvard Street, University of Minnesota School of Nursing, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


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