The topic of parental stress in the neonatal intensive care unit is widely researched in literature.
For parents, the hospitalisation of their neonate is regarded as a stressful experience, and
therefore, many interventions are based on reducing parental stress. Research has indicated
the effectiveness of interventions to reduce parental stress in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
(NICU); however, to our knowledge, no studies have been conducted in the South African
context with the aim of reducing parental stress in the NICU.
The aim of this study was to determine the effectiveness of the implementation of psychoeducational
sessions on parental stress in a NICU of a private hospital in Gauteng, South
Following a quantitative research approach, a quasi-experimental research design with a
control group and a treatment group was used to determine the effectiveness of psychoeducational
sessions to reduce parents’ stress levels, when they had a neonate admitted to
the NICU. The study included a control group and a treatment group, of which the latter
underwent the intervention, namely psycho-educational sessions. A self-report stress scale,
the Parental Stressor Scale: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (PSS: NICU) was used to measure
the levels of stress that parents in both groups experienced.
The results indicated that parents experience stress when their neonates are hospitalised in
the NICU. The most stressful aspect for parents in both groups was the alteration in parental
role. Furthermore, there was no statistically significant difference in the subcategory scale
mean between the mothers and fathers, with no statistically significant difference in the total
means scores either (p > 0.05), indicating that both groups experienced a moderate level of
stress and neither group experienced less stress than the other. The current study found that
both the control group and the treatment group participants’ PSS: NICU scores were affected
by Apgar score at one minute (p < 0.05).
Although the results of this study were not statistically significant, it confirmed previous
literature which showed that parents who have a neonate admitted to the NICU experience
some form of stress or psychological distress. The results showed that the intervention did not
reduce parental stress as hypothesised, using the PSS: NICU as the primary measurement
tool. In conclusion, it is suggested that further research is necessary in South Africa, using a
different research design, a larger population (including other institutions) and an adapted intervention where parents are approached and accommodated before admission to the
Dissertation (MCur)--University of Pretoria, 2019.