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Parents' views on care of their very premature babies in neonatal intensive care units: a qualitative study

Russell, G. M., Sawyer, A., Rabe, H. , Abbott, J., Gyte, G., Duley, L., Ayers, S. & Very Preterm Birth Qualitative Collaborative Group, . (2014). Parents' views on care of their very premature babies in neonatal intensive care units: a qualitative study. BMC Pediatrics, 14(1), 230. doi: 10.1186/1471-2431-14-230


The admission of a very premature infant to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is often a difficult time for parents. This paper explores parents’ views and experiences of the care for their very premature baby on NICU.

Parents were eligible if they had a baby born before 32 weeks gestation and cared for in a NICU, and spoke English well. 32 mothers and 7 fathers were interviewed to explore their experiences of preterm birth. Although parents’ evaluation of care in the NICU was not the aim of these interviews, all parents spoke spontaneously and at length on this topic. Results were analysed using thematic analysis.

Overall, parents were satisfied with the care on the neonatal unit. Three major themes determining satisfaction with neonatal care emerged: 1) parents’ involvement; including looking after their own baby, the challenges of expressing breast milk, and easy access to their baby; 2) staff competence and efficiency; including communication, experience and confidence, information and explanation; and 3) interpersonal relationships with staff; including sensitive and emotional support, reassurance and encouragement, feeling like an individual.

Determinants of positive experiences of care were generally consistent with previous research. Specifically, provision of information, support for parents and increasing their involvement in the care of their baby were highlighted by parents as important in their experience of care.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Preterm birth; Neonatal intensive care unit; Qualitative research
Subjects: R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
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Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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