Maternal perceptions of parenting infants with congenital heart disease: Implications for early intervention

Barbara Berke Meyers, Pace University


This study explored how mothers perceive their parental role and cope with the chronicity of their child's congenital heart disease (CHD). Sixty-four mothers were selected to complete the Parent Perception Inventory (PPI) and the Parent Role Questionnaire (PRQ). The PPI was used as a needs assessment tool to identify mothers' perceptions of their concerns, needs, and coping strategies when raising a chronically ill infant. The PRQ was used to assess whether the impact of an infant's chronic illness has an affect on a mother's parental role perception at different stages of her child's development. Responses from 31 mothers of infants, diagnosed with congenital heart disease within the first six months of life, were compared with the responses from a control group of 34 mothers of healthy infants. This study found that mothers' stress reaction to their infant's illness is related to perceptions of the long-term prognosis of the cardiac defect. The presence of illness, severity of condition, and the accuracy of a mother's perceptions of the severity of her infant's cardiac condition was not associated with degree of stress. Although mothers of CHD infants did not experience a significantly greater degree of stress than mothers of healthy infants, there was significant variability in the number and types of concerns that each group held. Mothers of CHD infants are significantly more concerned with the needs of their infant. (e.g., his/her care and prognosis) than non-CHD mothers. Mothers of healthy infants focused their concerns on how the birth of their infant impacted on their needs and self-concerns. In both groups, marital satisfaction was related to stress, and unrelated to maternal age, income, and marital status. Both groups also agreed on their perceptions of their parental role and acknowledged that this role changes at different stages of their child's development. The aim of this study was to study maternal perceptions about parenting CHD infants. This study may sensitize health care professionals in their ability to identify maternal concerns and coping strategies, in order that interventions can be developed which meet their specific needs. Prior research shows that facilitating parenting and adaptive interactions within families has a positive impact on the developmental outcome of at-risk infants (e.g., enhances social and cognitive competence).

Subject Area

Social psychology|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Psychotherapy

Recommended Citation

Meyers, Barbara Berke, "Maternal perceptions of parenting infants with congenital heart disease: Implications for early intervention" (1997). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9732026.



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