Elevated Parental Stress Is Associated With Lower Self-Efficacy in Provider Communication During a Pandemic

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Hospital pediatrics








BACKGROUND: Effective communication between physician and parent promotes a successful alliance with families. The association of parental stress with self-efficacy when communicating during parent-physician interactions is unknown in the context of a pandemic. OBJECTIVES: Objectives of this study include quantifying and comparing the stress experienced by parents of hospitalized children before and after onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and examining the relationship of stress with self-efficacy in parent-physician communication during interactions throughout hospitalization. METHODS: We conducted in-person surveys of parents of children aged 3 months to 17 years hospitalized at a quaternary-level children's hospital, before and after onset of COVID-19. Parents completed 2 validated tools: Parenting Stress Index (PSI-SF) and the Perceived Efficacy in Parent-Physician Interactions (PEPPI), measuring self-efficacy in communicating with physicians. Socioeconomic data were collected. Fisher exact test and t test were used to compare score proportions and means; linear regression was used to evaluate association between PSI-SF and PEPPI with confounder adjustments. RESULTS: Forty-nine parents were recruited; the majority identified as non-White and female. An inverse relationship was noted between the total stress score and parental self-efficacy, which only attained statistical significance in the post-COVID-19 cohort (P = .02, multivariate P = .044). A significant increase in the mean was observed for subscale scores of Difficult Child (P = .019) and Parent-Child Dysfunctional Interaction after COVID-19 (P = .016). CONCLUSIONS: Elevated parental stress is associated with decreased self-efficacy during parent-physician interactions and it worsened during the pandemic. Future studies should examine the effect of different communication styles on parental stress and self-efficacy during hospitalization.