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

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Abstract

Objective

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

Design

Prospective survey.

Setting

Seven hospitals; families' homes.

Participants

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

Measures

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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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