The experience of psychological distress, symptoms of trauma, coping and post-traumatic growth in parents of children with congenital heart disease: a systematic review of literature

Brown, Jodie (2017) The experience of psychological distress, symptoms of trauma, coping and post-traumatic growth in parents of children with congenital heart disease: a systematic review of literature. Coursework Masters thesis, University of Southern Queensland. (Unpublished)

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AIM: This systematic review explored the experience of psychological distress, trauma, post-traumatic growth (PTG) and coping among parents of children with congenital heart disease (PCCHD).

METHOD: PRSIMA guidelines for systematic reviews were followed to identify 82 studies for inclusion and analysis.

FINDINGS: PCCHD experience high levels of distress that manifest in a variety of ways (including depression, anxiety, stress and somatization). Generally, the distress occurs at levels higher than normative populations and at levels consistent with parents of children with other chronic and/or severe health conditions. Psychosocial stressors (commonly but not exclusively found in families of more severe CHD) appear to exacerbate this experience. Diagnosis, and birth, of a child with CHD is deeply distressing for PCCHD. Invasive surgical procedures (e.g. open-heart surgery) are also a significant source of distress for PCCHD, regardless of CHD severity or the complexity of the procedure, and may serve as a trigger for concerns about child mortality and suffering, and the experiences of role loss, uncertainty and lack of control. Parental descriptions of these experiences are consistent with those of other survivors of traumatic experiences. A number of PCCHD meet threshold for diagnosis of Acute Stress Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and many more experience multiple clinically significant symptoms. Ongoing symptoms of trauma (in particular, hypervigilance), depression and anxiety are also frequently reported. PCCHD employ a variety of coping strategies in an attempt to manage the effects of their exposure to CHD-related trauma. Concurrently, they also appear to experience the transformational nature of this trauma in a way that is consistent with the features of PTG.

DISCUSSION: This review confirms and extends the existing literature regarding the psychological experiences of families of children with CHD. In addition, it highlights the traumatic nature of these events and identifies that symptom trajectories may vary as a function of time and type. This review also uniquely identifies evidence suggesting that PCCHD experience not just the distressing symptoms of trauma exposure, but also the transformational features suggestive of PTG. Findings are discussed in relation to existing research and implications for further research and practice.

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Item Type: Thesis (Non-Research) (Coursework Masters)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Master of Clinical Psychology thesis.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Psychology and Counselling (1 Jan 2015 - 31 Dec 2021)
Supervisors: Mullens, Amy; Fein, Erich
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2018 02:54
Last Modified: 22 Apr 2021 03:26
Uncontrolled Keywords: congenital heart disease; children; psychological stress
Fields of Research (2008): 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology
Fields of Research (2020): 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5203 Clinical and health psychology > 520399 Clinical and health psychology not elsewhere classified

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