Evaluating caregiver stress in craniosynostosis patients

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  • 1 Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville;
  • | 2 Surgical Outcomes Center for Kids, Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Nashville;
  • | 3 Department of Biostatistics, Vanderbilt University, Nashville; and
  • | 4 Department of Neurological Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee
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OBJECTIVE

Caregiver stress from a child’s diagnosis can impact a caregiver’s ability to participate in treatment decisions, comply, and manage long-term illness. The aim of this study was to compare caregiver stress in children with craniosynostosis at diagnosis and postoperatively.

METHODS

This prospective study included caregivers of pediatric patients with craniosynostosis receiving operative intervention. Demographics and Parenting Stress Index, Short Form (PSI-SF) and Pediatric Inventory for Parents (PIP) surveys at baseline (preoperatively) and 3 and 6 months postoperatively were completed. PSI-SF scores between 15 and 80 are considered normal, with > 85 being clinically significant and requiring follow-up. Higher PIP scores represent increased frequency and difficulty of stressful events due to the child’s illness. Pairwise comparisons were performed using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test. Multivariate analysis was performed to assess for PSI-SF and PIP predictors.

RESULTS

Of 106 caregivers (84% Caucasian), there were 62 mothers and 40 fathers. There were 68 and 45 responses at 3 and 6 months postoperatively, respectively. Regarding the baseline group, more than 80% were between 20 and 40 years of age and 58% had less than 2 years of college education. The median household income fell in the $45,001–$60,000 bracket. There was no significant difference between median baseline PSI-SF score (65, IQR 51–80) and those at 3 months (p = 0.45) and 6 months (p = 0.82) postoperatively. Both median PIP frequency (89 vs 74, p < 0.01) and difficulty (79 vs 71, p < 0.01) scores were lower at 3 months, although no significant difference was observed at 6 months (frequency: 95 vs 91, p = 0.67; difficulty: 82 vs 80, p = 0.34). Female sex, uninsured status, and open surgery type were all risk factors for higher parental stress.

CONCLUSIONS

Stress levels ranged from normal to clinically significant in the caregivers, with sex, uninsured status, and open repair predicting higher stress. Stress decreased at 3 months postoperatively before increasing at 6 months. Intervention targeting caregiver stress should be explored to maintain lower stress observed at 3 months after surgery.

ABBREVIATIONS

PIP = Pediatric Inventory for Parents; PSI = Parenting Stress Index; PSI-SF = PSI, Short Form.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplemental Tables 1-4 (PDF 460 KB)

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