Role alteration predicts anxiety and depressive symptoms in parents of infants with congenital heart disease: a pilot study.

Author ORCiD Identifier

Lisanti: 0000-0002-1826-6152

Publication Title

Cardiology in the young

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PubMed ID



BACKGROUND: Parents of infants born with critical congenital heart disease are at risk for adverse mental health symptoms. The purpose of this study was to identify infant-, parent-, and environmental-based stressors for mothers and fathers after their infants' cardiac surgery, and to explore relationships between stressors and mental health symptoms of anxiety and depression.

METHODS: This study enrolled 28 biological mother-father dyads from families admitted to the paediatric cardiac intensive care unit for cardiac surgery at one free-standing children's hospital in the Northeast. Paired t-tests were used to examine group differences between mothers and fathers on perceived stressors and mental health symptoms, while linear mixed effects modelling was used to explore the predictive relationship between perceived stressors, personal factors, and mental health symptoms.

RESULTS: Mothers reported higher perceived stressor scores of parental role alteration (t = 4.03, p < 0.01) and infant appearance and behaviour (t = 2.61, p = 0.02), and total perceived stress (t = 2.29 p = 0.03), compared to fathers. Mothers also reported higher anxiety (t = 2.47, p = 0.02) and depressive symptoms (t = 3.25, p < 0.01) than fathers. In multivariable analysis, parental role alteration significantly predicted anxiety (t = 5.20, p < 0.01, d = 0.77) and depressive symptoms (t = 7.09, p < 0.01, d = 1.05) for mothers and fathers. The consensus subscale of the Dyadic Adjustment Scale also significantly predicted depressive symptoms (t = -2.42, p = 0.02, d = 0.04).

CONCLUSION: Parents were distressed during their infant's admission for surgical repair for critical congenital heart disease. Parental role alteration was significantly associated with parental anxiety and depressive symptoms, while poor relationship quality was associated with depressive symptoms, highlighting areas for potential nursing-led psychosocial led interventions.



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