Parental Post-traumatic Stress and Healthcare Use in Infants with Complex Cardiac Defects

Nadya Golfenshtein, Alexandra L. Hanlon, Alicia J. Lozano, Einav Srulovici, Amy J. Lisanti, Naixue Cui, Barbara Medoff-Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To examine the associations between post-traumatic stress of parents of infants with complex congenital heart defects and their healthcare use for their infants during the early months of life. Study design: The current study is a secondary data analysis from a randomized controlled trial in which 216 parent–infant dyads were recruited from 3 cardiac intensive care units of large pediatric centers in Northeastern America. The current sample included 153 dyads with post-traumatic stress data at hospital discharge and at 4-months’ follow-up. Poisson regressions were used to estimate the effect of post-traumatic stress change scores on number of emergency department (ED) visits, unscheduled cardiologist visits, and unscheduled pediatrician visits outcomes. Results: Infants whose parents gained post-traumatic stress disorder over the study period were at increased risk for ED visits and unscheduled cardiologist visits. Increased symptom severity predicted more unscheduled cardiologist visits and more unscheduled pediatrician visits. Increased symptom clusters (avoidance, arousal, re-experiencing) predicted more ED visits, more unscheduled cardiologist visits, and more unscheduled pediatrician visits. Conclusions: Parents of infants with cardiac conditions may experience post-traumatic stress following cardiac surgery, which can be linked to greater healthcare use. Findings highlight the importance of screening and treating post-traumatic stress to preserve parental mental health and prevent adverse outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-248
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
StatePublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Inc.


  • congenital heart disease
  • healthcare use
  • infants
  • parents
  • post-traumatic stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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