Background/Purpose. While hospitalization in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) is a stressful experience for children and families, the average length of stay (LOS) is 5 days with 50% discharged within two days, and the mortality rate is about 2%. Despite this relatively short stay and low prevalence of death, 25-60% of PICU parents experience clinical symptoms of traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression. Previous research suggests that subjective perceptions of medical events impact parental distress in the PICU. Therefore, pre-existing expectations about the PICU may impact emotional adjustment. The present study aimed to characterize community parents' perceptions of the PICU to identify potential misconceptions. Methods. Community parents (n=211; 77% Female, 72% White) of 6-12-year-old children completed an online survey. Participants reported on their medical background and previous ICU experiences. They were randomly assigned to one of three vignettes in which a friend disclosed their child’s PICU hospitalization either due to...

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