Predicting Posttraumatic Growth in Mothers and Fathers of Critically Ill Children: A Longitudinal Study

  • Rocío Rodríguez-ReyEmail author
  • Jesús Alonso-Tapia


Research on parental psychological effects related to a child’s critical illness has focused on studying negative outcomes, while the possibility of posttraumatic growth (PTG), defined as the perception of positive changes after a traumatic event, has been overlooked. This study explores the degree of parental PTG after a child’s hospitalization in a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and the role of resilience, emotions, perceived severity of the child’s condition and stress in predicting PTG. In the first 48 h after their child’s discharge from a PICU, N = 196 parents were assessed for resilience, emotions, perceived stress, and the degree to which they perceived their child’s condition as severe. 6 months later N = 143 parents were assessed PTG. 6 months post discharge, 37.1% of parents reported PTG at least to a medium degree. Path analyses with latent variables showed that the psychological variables assessed at discharge predicted between 20 and 21% of the total variance in PTG. Resilience affected PTG indirectly, through the bias of positive emotions. PTG is a frequent phenomenon. Psychological interventions aimed at encouraging parental PTG after a child’s critical admission should focus on boosting resilience and positive emotions.


Resilience Posttraumatic growth Parents Critically ill children Parent stress Parent emotions Pediatric intensive care unit 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Rocío Rodríguez-Rey and Jesús Alonso-Tapia declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committees and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Faculty of Biomedical and Health Sciences, School of Biomedical SciencesUniversidad Europea de MadridMadridSpain
  2. 2.Department of Biological and Health Psychology, Psychology FacultyUniversidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain

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