Doctors, Families Rally for Cure for Deadly Birth Defect

Parent's Perspective News Report of Saint Louis Children's Hospital Press Conference

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Parental Perceptions of Social Support

If you are in the Texas Area - there is a Research Study we would like to help recruit families to participate. Please contact the email addresses provided.

June 21, 2009

Dear Parents:

We know that social support is vital for parents who have a chronically or critically ill child in the Intensive Care Unit. As an undergraduate student in the honors program with a major in Psychology at Austin College, I am interested in understanding more about the types of support that are most helpful to parents when they have a child in the ICU. Currently I am working on a project for my senior thesis titled, Parental perceptions of social support: An investigation of what types and sources of social support are perceived as most helpful when a child is in the intensive care unit, where I plan to examine what different sources and types of social support parents see as being more or less helpful in coping with the stress of having a sick child. This project has been approved by the Institutional Review Board at Austin College. The purpose of this letter is to request your participation in the project.

In order to participate in this project, I need both parents involvement. In the past, much of the research has only focused on the experiences of mothers. For this project, I want to make sure to include both mothers and fathers. Your participation will involve one face-to-face interview with the mother and a separate face-to-face interview with the father. Each interview will last approximately 1 hour. In order to make it as convenient as possible, I will come to your desired location on a day and time that works best in your schedule. I ask that spouses not talk to each other between the interviews about anything said in the individual interview, so that you will not be influenced by what the other one said. Once both interviews have been completed, you may talk about the interview. The interviews will be tape-recorded. The tape-recording is necessary for participation in the project. It will be used to ensure that the researcher gets all of information written down accurately. The tapes will be transcribed so that sources and types of support can be accurately coded. When the tapes are transcribed, any information that could be used to identify you personally (such as names) will be removed to protect your privacy.

In addition to the interview, I will need one parent to complete a short background questionnaire. This questionnaire should not take more than 10minutes to complete.

All information will be kept confidential. No names will be used in the research. Each tape and questionnaire will be assigned a corresponding identification number that will be used instead of a name. The tapes and the questionnaires will be kept in separate locked filing cabinets in my advisor's office. Only my advisor, my research assistant, and I will have access to the raw data. In accordance with standard research guidelines, tapes and transcriptions will be stored in a secure file cabinet for seven years. After seven years, they will be shredded.

While I do not believe there is any risk to you in participating in this project, discussing the time a child spent in the hospital can bring up painful memories. If at any time during the interview you become upset and would like to stop, please let me know. We can stop the interview at anytime. Benefits of participating in this project are helping researchers identify sources of social support that were the most helpful and least helpful to parents who had a child in the ICU, in order to help hospitals reduce the stress of parents in this difficult situation. Participation is on a volunteer basis, and you may withdraw your consent at any time without penalty. When the study is completed, a brief summary of our findings will be provided to you upon request. Thank you for your time. You are welcome to e-mail Caitlin Tabor or my advisor, Dr. Jill Schurr at with any questions or concerns.


Caitlin E. Tabor

Undergraduate Student

Jill K. Schurr, Ph.D., Advisor

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