Previous research has shown that having a child in the NICU is stressful for parents and that parents of NICU infants exhibit higher levels of stress compared to parents of healthy infants (Carter, Mulder, & Darow, 2007; MacDonald, 2007; Treyvaud et al., 2010). In addition, studies have found a correlation between improved parental mental health and shorter length of stay for infants in the NICU (Als et al., 2003). However, studies have not investigated the direction of the relationship between parental mental health and infant outcomes in the NICU, specifically whether poor parental mental health is impacting child outcomes such as longer length of stay, whether infant illness severity is impacting the poorer parental mental health, or whether the relationship between these variables is reciprocal. The purpose of this investigation was to implement a pilot study in preparation for a larger longitudinal investigation that will examine the reciprocal relationship between parental mental health and infant outcomes. This pilot study investigated the demographic characteristics of parents and infants in the NICU at the study site, the feasibility of carrying out such a study, as well as preliminary correlations between parental mental health and infant outcome variables. Mental health questionnaires were administered to 30 parents of infants admitted to the NICU at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital and infant health measures collected by NICU nurses will be used to analyze infant severity. Findings will inform the sample criteria, measures selection, study procedures, and research aims of larger longitudinal study.

LLU Discipline

Clinical Psychology




School of Behavioral Health

First Advisor

Neece, Cameron L.

Second Advisor

Freeman, Kimberly R.

Third Advisor

Tagge, Edward P.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Mental Health; Parenting - Psychology; Stress Disorders - Post-Traumatic; Infant - Newborn; Infant - Premature; Intensive Care Units - Neonatal; Intensive Care - Neonatal; Infant Care - Psychology; Outcome Assessment (Health Care)

Subject - Local

NICU Infants; Parental Mental Health; Loma Linda University Children's Hospital



Page Count


Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives