Date of Award

May 2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

W. Hobart Davies, PhD

Committee Members

Bonita P. Klein-Tasman, PhD, Charles B. Rothschild, MD


Critical Care, Distress, Medical Provider, Parent, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Psychological


During hospitalization in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), approximately 25-60% of parents experience clinical levels of distress (i.e., traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression). Despite this, PICU providers rarely refer parents to formal psychological services, and parents describe room for improvement in provider response to their emotional needs. Difficulty identify and/or responding to distress in parents may contribute to these deficiencies. The present study aimed to evaluate how medical providers identify and respond to parent distress in the PICU. Thirty-seven medical providers (78% female; 73% White) from the Children’s Wisconsin PICU completed a semi-structured interview. Providers perceived supporting distressed parents as a shared responsibility with psychosocial providers and described several contributors to distress and strategies that align with previous research. There may be room for improvement in recognition of other contributors and strategies, self-efficacy, and use of external resources through psychoeducation, skill-building, and increasing presence of psychologists in the PICU.