Objective Investigate relationships among neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) parent demographics, reported stress and social support.
Design Cross-sectional observation.
Setting Tertiary referral NICU in Mid-Atlantic USA.
Patients Parents (n=300) in the Giving Parents Support trial at enrolment.
Measures Psychometric scales measured general stress, parental stress, NICU stress and social support. Demographic variables included education level, health insurance type, race, relationship status, age and gender. Length of stay was used to control for illness severity. Associations and potential modifying effects were evaluated using linear regression.
Results Having less than a college degree (b=−2.52, SE=0.91) and female parent gender (b=−3.42, SE=1.47) were associated with lower parental stress scores. Older age in years was associated with higher parental stress scores (b=0.21, SE=0.07) but lower NICU stress scores (b=−0.01, SE=0.01). Greater social support scores were associated with lower scores of general (b=−2.76, SE=0.39) and parental stress (b=−1.71, SE=0.47). Less than a college degree (b=−0.26, SE=0.11), Medicaid insurance (b=−0.43, SE=0.11) and black race (b=−0.56, SE=0.12) were associated with decreased social support scores. Level of social support modified the relationship between education and parental stress, with higher social support decreasing education-based differences in parental stress scores (p=0.049).
Conclusion Sociodemographic risk factors may not infer stress or risk in the anticipated direction. Practice and future research should focus on identifying and supporting NICU families at high risk for stress and low support.
Trial registration number NCT02643472.
- healthcare disparities
- child health services
Data availability statement
Data are available on reasonable request. Deidentified participant data are available from LS (ORCID ID 0000-0002-0597-1397) and may be made available on reasonable request for further research investigation.
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Contributors RS, LT, LS and KF designed the study and performed data acquisition. TY and MJ performed data analysis and interpretation. All authors contributed to drafting and revisions of the manuscript, provided final approval and agree to be accountable to all aspects of the work. TY is the guarantor of the manuscript and accepts full responsibility for the finished work, had access to the data, and controlled the decision to publish.
Funding Research reported in this work was funded through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Award (IHS-1403-11567).
Disclaimer The statements presented in this work are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the PCORI, its Board of Governors or Methodology Committee.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.