Maternal perception of illness severity in premature infants.
This study examines relationships between the actual severity of the premature infant's medical condition, maternal perception of the severity of the infant's illness, the infant's birth weight, and maternal anxiety levels. Subjects for this study were 44 mothers who were part of a larger study of parental stress in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). The premature infants of these mothers were hospitalized in the NICU of a large southeastern university medical center at the time of data collection. Mothers completed a severity perception scale and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Data about actual severity of each infant's illness and about the infant's characteristics were collected from the medical chart. The findings indicate that maternal perceptions regarding the severity of their premature infants' illness are complex and are influenced by different factors at different points in time. A significant relationship was not found between the mother's recollection of infant severity at NICU admission and maternal perceptions at the time of the interview, two to five days after admission. Although maternal recall of the severity of the infant's illness on admission is not related to anxiety, perceptions of severity at the time of the interview (two to five days after admission) are related to anxiety scores.
Catlett, AT; Miles, MS; Holditch-Davis, D
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