Parenting under Pressure: A grounded theory of parenting young children with life-threatening congenital heart disease

Gwen R. Rempel, Vinitha Ravindran, Laura G. Rogers, Joyce Magill-Evans

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    89 Citations (Scopus)


    Aim. To report a grounded theory study to describe the process of parenting young children who have survived hypoplastic left heart syndrome to inform parent-focused interventions. Background. Technological advances in paediatric cardiology worldwide have improved the survival rates for young children with hypoplastic left heart syndrome who undergo staged surgical palliation. These children, however, are at risk for life-threatening complications and parents are charged with the responsibility to monitor their children at home with minimal support and guidance from healthcare professionals once home. Design. A constructivist grounded theory study. Method. The study was conducted in 2006-2008. Participants were 25 parents (15 mothers, 10 fathers) and 28 grandparents (17 grandmothers, 11 grandfathers) of 15 young children (6months-4·5years) who had undergone the Sano surgical approach for hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The 53 interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed and analysed using open and focused coding, constant comparative analysis and memoing. Findings. A process of Parenting under Pressure emerged that was characterized by four overlapping and re-emerging phases: (1) realizing and adjusting to the inconceivable; (2) growing increasingly attached; (3) watching for and accommodating the unexpected; and (4) encountering new challenges. Conclusions. In-depth understanding of the phases of Parenting under Pressure provides direction for nurses to support parents of children who survive hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Interventions that help carers of children with complex health conditions move through the phases of our Parenting under Pressure process may help them safeguard the survival of their children, and their own survival as parents as they manage multiple demands.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)619-630
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Mar. 2013


    • Congenital heart disease
    • Grounded theory
    • Hypoplastic left heart syndrome
    • Nursing
    • Parenting
    • Qualitative research


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