Ronald McDonald House Charities: Global Impact Study

Investigator: Linda Franck, RN, PhD, FAAN
Sponsor: Ronald McDonald House Charities, Inc.

Location(s): United States


Parental presence and active participation in care are believed to be important for the well-being and recovery of hospitalised children. However, there has been little research to guide the provision of parent accommodation and support services. The Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) wish to address this lack of evidence by commissioning research to investigate the impact of instrumental and psychosocial support for parents who receive RMHC accommodation and parents who do not receive RMHC accommodation, taking into account many of the factors that might influence short and long-term stress and coping outcomes.

This longitudinal, descriptive, comparative study will invite all parents with hospitalised children who meet the inclusion criteria to participate. Decisions to refer parents for RMHC accommodation will follow usual hospital procedures and will not alter for the  purposes of the study. Decisions about whether or not to accept RMHC accommodation will continue to be made by parents and will not be influenced by the study. Study interventions will include questionnaires to be completed at enrolment, discharge and at home after discharge for all participants. Subsets of parents will be invited to complete daily journals of their perceptions and activities, participate in interviews or wear a wrist actigraph to measure sleep-wake patterns. Data will be reported on parental use of accommodation and services. Comparative statistics will be used to investigate differences in psychosocial adjustment (parent/child anxiety, parent stress, child anxiety, impact of illness, and child behaviour) between the two groups.

This research will provide crucial information about the potential influences of parent accommodation and family support on parent, child and family outcomes. It will provide a firm foundation for further evaluation and service development to ensure that hospitals are able to provide the most effective support for parents so that they can most effectively support their hospitalised children.