Anxiety Screening During Assessment of Emotional Distress in Mothers of Hospitalized Newborns

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Abstract

Objectives:

To examine the incremental identification of emotional distress in mothers of hospitalized newborns by screening for anxiety in addition to depression and to provide practical information about anxiety screening scales to facilitate instrument selection and screening implementation by nurses in the NICU.

Design:

In this secondary data analysis, screening data from the recruitment phase of a feasibility trial to evaluate a nurse-delivered counseling intervention for emotionally distressed mothers of newborns in the NICU were used to examine the effect of anxiety screening.

Setting:

A Level IV NICU at a large academic medical center in the Midwestern United States.

Participants:

Women 18 years of age and older (N = 190) with newborns in the NICU.

Methods:

Participants completed multiple measures of depression and anxiety symptoms.

Results:

Of participants who had negative screening results on a depression-only screening instrument, 4.7% to 14.7% endorsed clinically significant anxiety symptoms depending on the screening instrument used.

Conclusion:

Screening for anxiety in mothers of newborns in the NICU resulted in identification of distressed mothers who would otherwise have been missed during routine depression-only screening. Multiple options for anxiety screening exist that add incremental information to depression-only screening and require little additional burden on providers and mothers of newborns in the NICU.

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