Hospitalization of children in an inpatient psychiatric ward is stressful for both the children and their parents, and separation from the parents during hospitalization is probably one major cause of this stress. We designated one room in a closed inpatient unit to enable a parent to stay with his/her child, including overnight, during the 1st week of hospitalization. We then examined the parents' experience of the shared parent–child stay. Thirty parents of 16 children aged 6–12 years admitted to our inpatient child psychiatry ward completed in-depth semi-structured interviews after that week's experience. The interviews covered the parents’ experiences of the 1st week in the larger context of pre-hospitalization period, which also includes the decision to hospitalize the child. The contents of the interviews were analyzed by means of independent coders that identified the following major themes: (1) ambivalence and confusion of the parents as related to their decision to hospitalize their child in the time period just before admission; (2) gradual process of separation from the child during the joint stay at the ward; (3) building confidence and trust toward the staff. Themes 2 and 3 express benefits from the joint hospitalization that may have a strong positive impact on the child's and the parent's recovery. These themes warrant further evaluation of the proposed shared stay during hospitalization in future studies.
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- Mental health
- Shared stay