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The post day care surgery experience for parents of toddlers and preschoolers Otterman, Pamela Joan


This study was designed to explore the parents' perspective and personal interpretations of the meaning of their childrens' first time day care surgery experience within the context of their everyday lives. The phenomenological method was used to guide data collection for this qualitative study. Data were collected through a series of 16 in-depth interviews with nine parents whose young children underwent a day care surgical procedure. The average age of the children was 23.8 months. Sample selection was guided by a purposive sampling technique. A semi-structured guide of open-ended questions was used for parent interviews. Analysis of the verbatim transcriptions was accomplished using the technique of constant comparative analysis. Informants gave detailed accounts of their experience and described the meanings and interpretations they assigned to it. The parents' accounts were synthesized into a descriptive framework of their experience which described three distinct chronological phases: the pre-hospitalization or preparatory phase, the hospitalization or operative phase, and the post-hospitalization or readjustment phase. It was apparent that the parents' experience extended well beyond the few hours they actually spent in the hospital setting. The study's findings revealed that parents perceived their experience as a stressful event in their everyday lives. New responsibilities were added to the usual tasks of parenting a toddler or preschooler resulting in parental role strain and an increased need for parental support. Parents reported feelings of fear, worry, and anxiety in varying intensity throughout the three phases of their experience. They used a variety of coping strategies to manage the stresses of their experience. The study findings were discussed in comparison to other authors' published works, placing these unique findings in context of the current literature. Implications for nursing practice, education, and research were presented.

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