Mother's Mental Health, Mother-Child Relationship, and Family Functioning 3 Months After a Preschooler's Head Injury

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Investigate mothers' mental health, mother-child relationship, and family functioning 3 months after preschool children's head trauma and hospital discharge.


Prospective survey.


Seven hospitals; families' homes.


Eighty mothers of children (ages 3–6) with head trauma.


Perceived injury severity, Mental Health Inventory, Parental Stressor Scale taken in pediatric intensive care unit 24 to 48 hours after admission; Mental Health Inventory, Parenting Stress Index, FACES II, Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support taken at 3 months postdischarge.


Injury severity had negative effects on mothers' mental health at 3 months after discharge, but not on the mother-child relationship and the family's functioning. Mothers' baseline mental health and ongoing support had positive effects on mother-child relationship and family adaptability.


Mothers with greater stress and poorer mental health during their child's hospitalization may be at risk for negative mother-child and family outcomes. Interventions that decrease parents' stress during hospitalization and promote ongoing social support after discharge may diminish this risk.

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