Parental Presence at the Bedside of Critically Ill Children in a Unit With Unrestricted Visitation*

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Abstract

Objectives:

To determine the percentage of time that critically ill children have a parent at the bedside and to identify extrinsic factors that are associated with percent of time with parental presence at the bedside.

Design:

Prospective cohort study.

Setting:

PICU in a single tertiary care children’s hospital.

Subjects:

Primary two parents of all children admitted to the PICU on 12 preselected days during a 1-year period from 2014 to 2015.

Interventions:

None.

Measurement and Main Results:

A total of 111 observations of 108 unique PICU admissions and families were performed. Children had at least one parent present a mean of 58.2% (SD, 34.6%) of the time. Mothers spent more time at the bedside (56.3% [SD, 31.0%]) than fathers (37.3% [SD, 29.5%]) (p = 0.0001). Percent of time with parental presence at the bedside was positively correlated with age (rs = 0.23; p = 0.02) and negatively associated with Pediatric Risk of Mortality III score (rs = –0.26; p = 0.01). Percent of time with parental presence at the bedside was lower for children who were mechanically ventilated (42.8% [SD, 35.5%]) than not (64.5% [SD, 32.2%]) (p = 0.01) and whose parent(s) were single (45.5% [SD, 27.5%]) or cohabitating/common-law (35.7% [SD, 26.4%]) compared with parents who were married (64.2% [SD, 34.2%]) or separated/divorced (68.3% [SD, 28.8%]) (p = 0.02). Percent of time with parental presence at the bedside was higher for children with chronic illnesses (63.4% [SD, 32.9%] vs 50.1% [SD, 35.8%] without; p = 0.04), when there was a bed in the patient room (61.4% [SD, 34.0%] vs 32.5% [SD, 28.3%] without; p = 0.01), and when parents slept in the patient room (90.3% [SD, 11.2%]) compared with their own home (37.6% [SD, 34.4%]) (p < 0.0001). Percent of time with parental presence at the bedside was not correlated with day of PICU stay, number of siblings, previous PICU admission, isolation status, or nursing ratio.

Conclusions:

Children had a parent present at the bedside approximately 60% of the time. The parents of younger, sicker children may benefit from supportive interventions during PICU admission. Further research is needed to examine both extrinsic and intrinsic factors affecting parental presence at the bedside.

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