Factors associated with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Its Coping Styles in Parents of Preterm and Full-Term Infants

  •  Maryam Ghorbani    
  •  Mahrokh Dolatian    
  •  Jamal Shams    
  •  Hamid Alavi-Majd    
  •  Samira Tavakolian    


Introduction: Birth of a premature infant and subsequent neonatal intensive care leads to psychological distress and trauma in parents. A large proportion of mothers show signs of trauma long after discharge from hospital. Fathers of premature infants are known to experience more stress than fathers of full-term infants. The sorrow experienced by parents of preterm infants is significantly higher than that experienced by parents of full-term infants because they have not been adequately prepared for the experience of birth, and need to cope with the stress caused by the clinical state and intensive care of the infant.

Method: This was a descriptive-comparative study conducted in medical centers of Qom, Iran in 2012. In this study, 82 couples (164 mothers and fathers), participated in two groups as parents of preterm and full-term infants and completed demographic, midwifery, posttraumatic stress disorder, Spielberg anxiety questionnaires, and the Coping Inventory with Stressful Situation within 2 months after birth of their infant. Data were analyzed using Chi-square, Fisher’s exact, Mann-Whitney, independent t tests, logistic regression, and Repeated measures ANOVA in SPSS-18 software.

Results: Posttraumatic stress disorder in preterm group mothers was significantly higher than in term group mothers (P=0.03), but no significant difference in this disorder was observed between fathers in these groups. There was a significant difference in coping styles with stress between mothers in the two groups (P<0.001) and between fathers in the two groups (P<0.001). Logistic model showed a significant correlation between posttraumatic stress and housing and coping strategies with stress in mothers.

Conclusion: Parents of premature infants are more exposed to psychological disorders, and there is a need to adopt educational approaches to improve parents’ coping ability with preterm infant’s circumstance.

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