Background Studies show that mothers and fathers of a premature infant have high levels of stress. Studies also confirm the importance of nursing support to reduce stress of parents.
Aim To explore gender differences in experiencing parental stress and nursing support of mothers and fathers who become parents to premature infants and receive standard care.
Methods Mothers and fathers (N=82) answered two self reporting questionnaires, the Nurse Parent Support Tool (NPST) once and the Parental Stressor Scale (PSS: NICU) twice. The NPST consists of 21 items classified into four dimensions, information, appraisal, emotional support and nursing care. The PSS: NICU is designed to measure parental perception of stressors arising from the physical and psychosocial environment of the NICU.
Result At baseline both mothers and fathers experienced high stress levels in relation to the infants appearance, some to the parental role and alteration and less on the dimension of sight and sound. The fathers’ experienced higher levels of stress at follow up compared to baseline for a number of variables. There were no significant differences regarding parents’ experiences with support from nurses.
Conclusion Mothers’ experiences of stress decrease but fathers reports increased stress at discharge to home compared to their responses at baseline. In spite of this both parents were satisfied with the support from nurses, especially in relation to the information dimension and the nursing care dimension. As a result of this study we have become aware of the importance of stress preventing initiatives towards fathers of “healthy” premature infants.