Psychological factors are associated with how parents cope during a child's intensive care hospitalization. However, little is known about the role of physiological-stress responses in parents' coping and adaptation to such situations. This study investigates the relationship between parents' psychophysiological-stress responses, as measured by urine catecholamine excretion, and their coping and activities during a child's intensive care experience. Parents who appraised the situation as one that is amenable to change and who used more problem-focused strategies, such as seeking social support, had lower anxiety and lower catecholamine levels. Further, parents who were more problem focused performed more child care activities during the experience. The results of this study provide information for planning interventions to promote parental coping and adjustment to the child's critical care situation.
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