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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Broken Heart: The Impact of Pediatric Open Heart Surgery on Parents' Wellbeing and Parenting
by McWhorter, Linda G., Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2018, 166; 10746597
Abstract (Summary)

According to the pediatric medical traumatic stress model, pediatric medical experiences can create posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) in pediatric patients and in their parents and siblings. While the impact of traumatic medical experiences has been studied in parents of children with a variety of pediatric conditions, little is known about how the resulting PTSS may affect parenting. The relational PTSD model suggests that suboptimal parenting patterns can result from parental PTSS. One condition with high potential for traumatic medical events is critical congenital heart disease (CHD), which requires open heart surgery during infancy. This qualitative study examined the experience of parental PTSS and parenting in a sample of parents (N=12; 4 fathers, 8 mothers) of children with critical CHD. Using interpretive phenomenological analysis, focus group data were analyzed to determine 1) the ways in which CHD has affected parents’ lives; 2) the parents’ experience of PTSS related to CHD; 3) parenting patterns; and 4) the relationships between parental PTSS and parenting patterns. The following themes emerged: seeking/receiving social support, giving back, positive changes, overprotective and permissive parenting, and lasting effects of the traumatic medical experiences. Parents reported experiencing PTSS from all four PTSD symptom clusters. In addition, vicarious trauma and continuous traumatic stress were reported. Parents reported parenting patterns of overprotection and permissiveness; overprotection was suggested by the relational PTSD model. Finally, parenting a child with CHD was found to be a gendered experience, with fathers and mothers reporting different experiences on a variety of themes. Clinical considerations include the importance of parent to parent support, the different experiences of fathers and mothers, and the need to screen for PTSS among parents of children with CHD. Future research should consider quantitative studies with larger samples to assess the relationship between PTSD and parenting in this population.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Portwood, Sharon G.
Commitee: Boyd, A. Suzanne, Issel, Michele, Peterman, Amy
School: The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Department: Health Psychology
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-B 79/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Clinical psychology
Keywords: Congenital heart disease, PTSD, Parental trauma, Parenting, Pediatric medical traumatic stress, Posttraumatic growth
Publication Number: 10746597
ISBN: 978-0-355-79515-8
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