Date of Award

Spring 4-26-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Nursing




Judith Lothian, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Katherine Hinic, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kristi Stinson, Ph.D.


family-centered care, parental beliefs, parental stress, pediatric critical care, pediatric nurses, parents of hospitalized child, children with medical complexity


Children hospitalized for critical care require increasingly complex and technical care, which can be very stressful for parents. Awareness of the importance of parents’ role while their child is receiving critical care is vital to deliver care within a family-centered philosophy that is mutually beneficial to parents and nurses. This descriptive correlational study examined the relationships between and among parental perception of Family-Centered Care (FCC) nursing practices, parental beliefs regarding their role and their hospitalized child, and parental stress during their child’s admission to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). This study utilized the Family-Centered Care theoretical framework to examine these relationships and obtain a better understanding of the antecedents, characteristics, and consequences of family-centered care in the hospitalized child.

The sample consisted of 43 parents whose child was admitted to a single PICU in New Jersey. More than 35% of these parents had a child with chronic medical complexity. All parents completed three established survey instruments while their child was actively admitted to the PICU, which measured the main study variables: Family-centered Care Scale, Parental Beliefs for the Hospitalized Child, and Parental Stressor Scale: Pediatric ICU, in addition to an original demographic instrument developed by the researcher.

The results of this study were not statistically significant to address the predictive relationship between FCC, parental beliefs, and parental stress. However, there were statistically significant findings related to parental beliefs and children with medical complexity, particularly if they had had previous PICU admissions. There were also statistically significant findings for the demographic variables of marital status and parental stress, as well as number of days in PICU and parental stress. Finally, there was a small positive correlation with parental beliefs and FCC that was statistically significant.

These findings elucidate the importance of parental beliefs and how nurses may influence parents’ experiences when their child is faced with a critical care hospitalization through the provision of FCC. The implications of this study are important for further research on these variables and how to tailor our approach to better understand parents’ role while their child is in the PICU to minimize negative outcomes.