Parents may experience psychological distress when a child is acutely hospitalized, which can negatively affect child outcomes. Interventions designed to support parents’ coping have the potential to mitigate this distress.


To describe interventions designed to provide coping support to parents of hospitalized children and conduct a meta-analysis of coping support intervention outcomes (parent anxiety, depression, and stress).


We searched Pubmed, Embase, PsycINFO, Psychiatry Online, and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature from 1985 to 2016 for English-language articles including the concepts “pediatric,” “hospitalization,” “parents,” and “coping support intervention.”


Two authors reviewed titles and abstracts to identify studies meeting inclusion criteria and reviewed full text if a determination was not possible using the title and abstract. References of studies meeting inclusion criteria were reviewed to identify additional articles for inclusion.


Two authors abstracted data and assessed risk of bias by using a structured instrument.


Initial searches yielded 3450 abstracts for possible inclusion. Thirty-two studies met criteria for inclusion in the systematic review and 12 studies met criteria for inclusion in the meta-analysis. The most commonly measured outcomes were parent depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms. In meta-analysis, combined intervention effects significantly reduced parent anxiety and stress but not depression. Heterogeneity among included studies was high.


Most included studies were conducted at single centers with small sample sizes.


Coping support interventions can alleviate parents’ psychological distress during children’s hospitalization. More evidence is needed to determine if such interventions benefit children.

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