Is post-traumatic growth possible in the parents of former patients of neonatal intensive care units?
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Department of Anaesthesiological and Intensive Care Nursing, Medical University, Lublin, Poland
Department of Applied Psychology, Medical University, Lublin, Poland
Corresponding author
Joanna Milanowska   

Department of Applied Psychology Medical University of Lublin
Ann Agric Environ Med. 2020;27(1):106-112
The birth of a sick child, as well as the infant’s subsequent hospitalization in an neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), is undoubtedly stressful for the parents of the infant. Most studies conducted in groups of parents of such children focus on the assessment of the negative changes in their functioning due to such stress. The authors were interested in positive changes in the psychological functioning of parents that may occur after traumatic experiences. These changes are referred to as post-traumatic growth (PTG).

The aim of this study was to examine whether parents experience post-traumatic growth and to determine the predictors of PTG in fathers and mothers, depending on the coping strategy adopted.

Material and methods:
The study involved 82 parents, whose children were previously hospitalized in neonatal intensive care unit. The methods used included the following standardized psychological tests: the Post-traumatic Growth Inventory, the Impact of Event Scale-Revised, and the COPE Inventory. Socio-demographic and medical data were also collected.

Analysis of the data proved that the illness and hospitalization of a child are significantly associated with the occurrence of post-traumatic growth in parents. PTG in mothers is higher than in fathers. Predictors of PTG in fathers include the use of strategies aimed at seeking emotional support and positive reinterpretation and growth, while in the group of mothers, seeking emotional support, religious coping and planning were the coping strategies used.

Research on post-traumatic growth should be expanded. Knowledge of the predictors of positive growth in a difficult situation can contribute to the widespread implementation of primary and secondary prevention of post-traumatic stress symptoms as well as increase positive changes in individuals who have experienced traumatic events.

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