family centered care, infant/newborn, interactions, level II nurseries, neonatal intensive care, neonatal nursing, nursing roles, parents, professional family relationships, special care



  1. Fenwick, Jennifer RN, CM, MNgSt
  2. Barclay, Lesley RN, CM, PhD
  3. Schmied, Virginia RN, CM, MAHons


This article reports an ethnographic study that examines the context and nature of the interactions between health professionals and parents in two Australian level II nurseries: 724 observations were recorded over an 18-week period. Analysis revealed that although the presence of mothers in the nursery was high, registered nurses remain the primary caretakers of the infants. The interactions between registered nurses and mothers were found to be action- or task-oriented with communication largely being described as "instrumental." The results of this pilot work suggest that the emphasis of clinical practice in level II nurseries remains focused on caring for the infant and teaching the mother. This is in contrast to the current body of literature that identifies the need for a family-centered approach to care that aims to support parents as they develop confidence, attach to their baby, and become skilled in providing care themselves.