Internal and External Resources and the Adjustment of Parents of Premature Infants

Tal Shani-Sherman, Michael J. Dolgin, Leah Leibovitch, Ram Mazkereth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Studies have shown premature birth and infant hospitalization to be associated with increased levels of parental distress. Internal and external psychological resources have been found to mitigate distress among persons coping with stressful medical events. The current study evaluated psychological resources and distress in 87 parents (57 mothers and 30 fathers) to whom an infant was born prematurely and hospitalized in the NICU of a large tertiary medical center. Parents were administered standardized measures of internal (problem-solving skills) and external (total spousal support, adequacy of spousal support) psychological resources and of psychological distress (depression, posttraumatic symptoms, and mood). Findings indicated that higher levels of problem-solving skills and more adequate spousal support, but not total spousal support, were related to lower levels of parental distress. Adequacy of spousal support and parents’ problem-solving skills accounted for 18% of the variance in overall mood and 13.8% of the variance in posttraumatic stress symptoms. A significant two-way interaction was found between adequacy of spousal support and problem-solving skills such that individuals with better problem-solving skills reported better overall mood independent of the adequacy of spousal support they receive. However, for individuals with poor problem-solving skills, the adequacy of the spousal support they receive was a significant factor in determining their overall mood. The theoretical and clinical implications of these findings are discussed in terms of the accessibility of these resources to assessment and their potential for change via existing intervention approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-352
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings
Issue number3
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2019


  • Parental distress
  • Premature infants
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Spousal support


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