Ronald McDonald houses are located close to children's hospitals. They enable the hospitalized child to benefit from their family's presence, while helping the family to cope better with their child's hospital stay. This study aimed to describe the experience of parents staying in Ronald McDonald houses in France, identify their needs, and study the psychological impact of their child being in hospital.
This cross-sectional observational epidemiological study was conducted in 2016, using anonymous self-administered questionnaires offered to parents staying in one of the nine Ronald McDonald houses in France. The questionnaire had two sections: a general section about the hospitalized child, and a 62 questions section to be completed by each parent, including a Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS).
The participation rate was 62.9%: 71% of mothers completed the questionnaire (n = 320), and 54.7% of fathers did so (n = 246). They were the parents of 333 children (53.9% boys, 46.1% girls), under 1 year old (44.1%), hospitalized in the following three departments: intensive care (24%), pediatric oncology (23.1%), and neonatal care (20.1%). The mothers on average spent 11 h a day at their child's bedside, while the fathers spent 8 h 47 min. The parents tended to be employees or manual workers, and mostly lived together, with an average 2-h journey to hospital. They reported financial problems in 42.1% of cases, significant sleep deprivation (>90 min) in 73.2% of cases, and anxiety and depressive disorders: anxiety (59%) and depression (26%). There were some significant differences between the experiences of mothers and fathers: mothers lost out on their sleep and lost more appetite, and spent more time at their child's bedside, while the fathers encountered twice as many work-related difficulties (p<0.01). Additionally, their perception of the Ronald McDonald House was similar, as over 90% of them stated that this family accommodation allowed them to feel closer to their child and supported them in their role as parents.
The parents of children in hospital were 6–8 times more anxious than the general population, while clinical symptoms of depression were twice as common as in the overall population. Despite this suffering linked to their child's illness, the parents rated highly the support provided by the Ronald McDonald House in helping them cope with their child's time in hospital.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Accommodation, Parents experience, Patient-centered care, mental health