Objectives: To explore parents’ experiences of transition and aftercare following their child’s discharge from a paediatric intensive care unit to an in-patient ward.
Methods: A qualitative systematic review was conducted. Electronic databases CINAHL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, Psych INFO, and ASSIA were searched for qualitative studies with no date limits imposed. Methodological quality was assessed using the JBI QARI standardised critical appraisal instrument. Data were extracted into a standardised data extraction tool. Findings were pooled using a meta-aggregative approach.
Results: Four studies were included in the final review that included a total of 95 participants. Forty-nine findings were extracted and through an iterative process resulting in four synthesised findings being developed. These included: (1) Dynamic emotional response pre, peri and post-transfer; (2) Involvement in care absent but fundamental to functioning; (3) Changes in care delivery and environment provoking adverse emotions and (4) Transition as a physical, emotional and social balancing act.
Conclusion: Transitioning from the paediatric intensive care unit to an in-patient ward can be a challenging time for parents, exposing them to a turbulent emotional and social status, and depleting their personal resources. Parents are aware of differences in the organisation and delivery of care between clinical areas which can compound the adversity experienced. Health professionals need to provide targeted support in order to mitigate these negative emotional, physical and social effects experienced.