Aims and objectives: To identify the factors that predict maternal state anxiety when mothers and their sick children visit the outpatient unit of a paediatric hospital. Background: While previous studies have focused on predictors of anxiety in mothers with ill children, the existing literature is limited in study design, research timing, respondent characteristics, sample size and data analysis. Design: A cross-sectional design with self-administered questionnaires. Methods: Mothers were recruited from the outpatient unit of a Japanese paediatric hospital (N = 1077). Participants' state anxiety scores were collected using the Japanese version of Spielberger's State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. The independent variables were the mothers' and sick children's background information. Results: Participants were 1077 mothers; 990 provided valid responses. Mothers' mean state anxiety score was 49·72. Significant predictors of maternal anxiety were mothers' childrearing anxiety, child age, the sick child having a fever, sick child having siblings, having a person providing childrearing support, the mother's first visit to the hospital, out-of-hours visit and severity of the child's illness. The overall model explained 21·6% of the variance (multiple regression analysis). Conclusions: As various factors predicted maternal anxiety, identifying methods to address these factors may reduce maternal state anxiety. Relevance to clinical practice: There is potential for improved understanding of the predictors of maternal state anxiety to aid in the development of materials that would best measure anxiety. The present findings may also suggest some means of providing appropriate information and support to anxious mothers. Our findings cannot demonstrate causation, however, and teaching methods and supportive practices were not investigated; therefore, a qualitative study on the concrete content of maternal anxiety and an intervention study to create support services for anxious mothers is required. In addition, prospective or longitudinal studies are also important for investigating causation.
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