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PS-137a A Brief Intervention To Improve Parent Post-traumatic Stress Symptoms Following Paediatric Critical Illness: A Pilot Randomised Controlled Trial
  1. LC Als1,
  2. B Vickers2,
  3. S Nadel3,
  4. M Cooper3,
  5. ME Garralda1
  1. 1Academic Unit of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Imperial College London, London, UK
  2. 2Adolescent Assertive Outreach Team, South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust, London, UK
  3. 3St Mary’s Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK


Background and aims Admission to paediatric intensive care (PIC) has been linked to subsequent post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) in parents. This study aimed to obtain initial estimates regarding the effect of a brief intervention on parent PTSS and explore the mediating effect of baseline parental stress.

Methods Parents of children aged 4–16 years old were randomised to intervention versus treatment as usual (TAU). The intervention was delivered within six weeks of discharge from hospital and included a psycho-educational booklet and telephone call. Parents’ baseline stress was measured using the Parental Stressor Scale: PICU. Parents were followed-up a median of 5 months post discharge from PICU and measures of PTSS were obtained using the Impact of Events Scale.

Results Although not statistically significant, parents in the intervention group (n = 17) fared better than parents in the TAU group (n = 6): They reported fewer PTSS [19.47 (95% CI 11.64–26.62) vs. 25.83 (95% CI 11.47–39.00)] and fewer were at risk for clinical disorder (18% vs. 33%) (Cohen’s d = 0.38 and 0.34 respectively). However, there were potential implications for screening: “High stress” parents in the intervention group had lower PTSS scores than “high stress” TAU parents (d = 1.06), whereas “low stress” parents in the intervention group had higher PTSS scores than “low stress” TAU parents (d = 0.47) (See Figure 1).

Abstract PS-137a Figure 1

Post-traumatic stress symptoms in parents at 5 months post PICU discharge in the intervention (Rx) and Treatment as usual [TAU] groups, split according to baseline parental stress score (H=high stress; L=low stress)

Conclusions Pilot data indicate that a brief intervention could have a significant impact on parent PTSS following paediatic critical illness, but this needs to be evaluated in a sufficiently powered RCT.

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