Parenting a Child with Congenital Heart Defects

UoM administered thesis: Doctor of Clinical Psychology

  • Authors:
  • Midori Lumsden


Paper 1 is a metasynthesis and qualitative analysis of studies exploring coping in parents who have a child diagnosed with a congenital heart defect (CHD). Six databases were systematically searched using key words and index terms to identify the qualitative literature exploring parent coping strategies for managing the issues of having a child with CHD. Twenty-two studies met the inclusion criteria and quality appraisal conditions. These papers reported on 704 parents’ coping needs and strategies from their child’s diagnosis, undergoing multiple operations, providing health care and looking to the future. Four core themes emerged from the synthesis to describe the processes that enable parental coping: Emotional response, Support systems, Parental management and Avoidance. Recommendations were made for professionals who came into contact with families. Findings and limitations were discussed in relation to the existing literature. Paper 2 explored the lived experience of 12 parents who had a child with single ventricle CHD, who had completed all stages of the Fontan surgical procedure. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) of the data identified three superordinate themes that captured the parent experience: Super-parenting, Accepting CHD and their role, and Striving for Normality. These themes were divided into further subthemes that explored the intricacies of the parenting journey from diagnosis, through surgeries and into childhood and adolescence. Clinical implications are discussed in relation to the role of psychologists working with families in health care settings. Paper 3 is a critical reflection of the research. This paper discusses the rationale for the research design in both papers. Approaches to interviewing and analysis are reviewed with reference to researcher reflexivity, and a model of parent experience is proposed.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date31 Dec 2018