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  1. Pritchard, Verena E. PhD
  2. Rizkallah, Sarah MPsyc(Clin)


Objectives: Intervention efforts to improve the psychosocial well-being of parents with an infant in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) are high priority. This study assessed public and healthcare professionals' perceptions of prominent NICU stressors to highlight areas where NICU parents are in need of further support. Relations with sample characteristics were also examined to establish the generalizability of known parent demographic/sociofamilial risk factors.


Methods: A cross-sectional design was used to assess public (n = 96) and staff (n = 55) responses on the Parental Stressor Scale: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (PSS:NICU).


Results: The public perceived parental stress as being low to moderate. This was significantly lower than the staff estimate and highly comparable with past parent reports. Staff communication was perceived as most stressful by the public with this influenced by gender and education. Staff with more NICU experience were more likely to overestimate parental stress, particularly those working at the highest care level.


Conclusions: Collectively, these findings highlight preconceived anxiety around staff communication and behaviors and indicate that education on the potential for traumatic unit experiences to influence staff-parent communication may be important.