Virtual Conference

Karkani Anastasia

APPAC President, Greece

Title: Identifying mothers experiencing emotional distress in the neonatal intensive care unit. Application of PPTSD questionnaire in a Greek NICU population


The birth of a high-risk infant such as an extremely premature infant can represent an important traumatic experience for mothers. Perinatal Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Questionnaire (PPTSDQ) explores retrospectively maternal post-traumatic stress reaction. This shelf-rating questionnaire explores the potential for experiencing posttraumatic symptoms related to childbirth and the ensuing post-natal period. The PTSD questionnaire was originally developed by DeMier and Hynan and their colleagues at the University of Wisconsin and has been widely used in research and in clinical practice for identifying mothers experiencing significant emotional distress during the post-natal period, so they may be referred for mental health services. The present study aims to introduce this tool in perinatal settings as an early intervention. It has been widely used with other measures of post-traumatic stress and depression, such as the Openness Scale from the NEO-PR, the self-report measure of depression BDI-II, the IES (Impact Event Scale) and the EPDS (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale). Although already a useful clinical instrument the current study used the revised version. This modification refines the response options from dichotomous choices to a Likert scale format by Callahan Borja and Hynan. Numerous qualitative and quantitative studies state that premature delivery is a highly stressful event and document the full range of post-traumatic sequelae, such as intrusive recollections, behavioral avoidance, and hyperarousal, as well as attachment difficulties following childbirth. Furthermore, the severity of neonatal complications and gestational age have been found to be predictive of PTSD symptomatology in parents as measured by the PPQ. For this reason, the current study aims to give increased focus to mothers having a premature birth and often expecting their children to die. The sample comprises 25 mothers of prematurely born infants hospitalized in the NICU and 25 mothers of full-term infants born in the maternity ward of the same Greek hospital who responded to the Perinatal PTSD Questionnaire and equally the PERI a postnatal complication rating inventory and the clinical interview for parents CLIP. Mothers of high-risk infants present post-traumatic stress reactions related to prematurity. The Perinatal PTSD Questionnaire identifies postnatal maternal distress but should not substitute a clinical interview, yet findings indicate that equally identifies pre-existing distress symptoms associated with maternal personality traits that emerged with the traumatic event of the unexpected birth. Due to the consistency of the population of the experimental group, who come mostly from the provinces, the possibility of a follow-up of the cases is quite limited.