Many aspects of neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) are stressful to parents, including prolonged hospitalization, alterations in parenting, exposure to a technical environment, and the appearance of their small, fragile infant. To identify potential NICU stressors for parents, levels of stress these experiences engender, and their relationship to anxiety, parents of infants hospitalized in three NICUs were interviewed using the Parental Stressor Scale: NICU and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Alterations in parental role caused by the infant’s illness generated the greatest stress. The second highest areas of stress were the infant’s appearance and behavior. State anxiety levels were higher than normative means and significantly related to stress scores

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