Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Committee Chair

Smith, Sandra Lee

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Hall, Lynne A.

Committee Member

Hall, Lynne A.

Committee Member

Shawler, M. Celeste

Committee Member

Mainous, Rosalie O'Dell

Author's Keywords

Parents; Preterm infants; NICU; Uncertainty; Stress; State anxiety; Depressive symptoms


Parents--Psychology; Sick children


Admission of a sick neonate to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can be a very stressful experience for the parents. Parents strive to deal with stress, uncertainty, anxiety, and depressive symptoms in this potentially threatening environment. Research on parental uncertainty in the neonatal population is limited. Moreover, very few studies examined predictors of stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms in parents of NICU infants. The purpose of this study was to identify predictors of uncertainty, stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms in parents of preterm infants in the NICU. A cross-sectional explorative design was used to recruit a convenience sample of 32 pairs of parents of preterm infants from NICUs in three Hospitals in Louisville, Kentucky. Parents completed the Parental Perception of Uncertainty in Illness Scale (PPUS), the Parental Stressor Scale: NICU (PSS: NICU), the State Anxiety Inventory (SAI), and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression (CES-D) scale. Descriptive statistics and correlational analysis were conducted. Multiple linear regressions were used to identify predictors of uncertainty, stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms followed by path analysis for the significant predictors. The results showed that NICU parents experienced moderate to high levels of uncertainty, stress, and state anxiety and low levels of depressive symptoms. Statistically significant differences were found between parents in level of stress and state anxiety, but not in uncertainty or depressive symptoms. Uncertainty had the greatest effect on state anxiety and depressive symptoms.

Included in

Nursing Commons