Post-Traumatic Growth in Parents following Their Child's Death in a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit

Markita Suttle, Mark W. Hall, Murray M. Pollack, Robert A. Berg, Patrick S. McQuillen, Peter M. Mourani, Anil Sapru, Joseph A. Carcillo, Emily Startup, Richard Holubkov, Daniel A. Notterman, Gillian Colville, Kathleen L. Meert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Although bereaved parents suffer greatly, some may experience positive change referred to as post-traumatic growth. Objective: Explore the extent to which parents perceive post-traumatic growth after their child's death in a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), and associated factors. Design: Longitudinal parent survey conducted 6 and 13 months after a child's death. Surveys included the Post-traumatic Growth Inventory-Short Form (PTGI-SF), a 10-item measure with range of 0-50 where higher scores indicate more post-traumatic growth. Surveys also included the Inventory of Complicated Grief (ICG), the Patient Health Questionnaire-8 (PHQ-8) for depression, the Short Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Rating Interview (SPRINT), a single item on perceived overall health, and sociodemographics. Setting/Subjects: One hundred fifty-seven parents of 104 children who died in 1 of 8 PICUs affiliated with the U.S. Collaborative Pediatric Critical Care Research Network. Results: Of participating parents, 62.4% were female, 71.6% White, 82.7% married, and 89.2% had at least a high school education. Mean PTGI-SF scores were 27.5 ± 12.52 (range 5-50) at 6 months and 28.6 ± 11.52 (range 2-49) at 13 months (p = 0.181). On multivariate modeling, higher education (compared with those not completing high school) and higher 6-month ICG scores (reflecting more complicated grief symptoms) were associated with lower 13-month PTGI-SF scores (p = 0.005 and 0.033, respectively). Conclusion: Parents bereaved by their child's PICU death perceive a moderate degree of post-traumatic growth in the first 13 months after the death however variability is wide. Education level and complicated grief symptoms may influence parents' perception of post-traumatic growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-273
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Palliative Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • General Nursing


  • Bereavement
  • Child
  • Infant
  • Parent
  • Pediatric intensive care unit
  • Post-traumatic growth


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