1. Raines, Deborah A. PhD, EdS, RN, ANEF
  2. Brustad, Judith MSN, RN


PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to describe the parent's self-reported confidence as a caregiver. The specific research questions were as follows:


* What is the parent's perceived level of confidence when performing infant caregiving activities in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)?


* What is the parent's projected level of confidence about performing infant caregiving activities on the first day at home?



SUBJECTS: Participants were parents of infants with an anticipated discharge date within 5 days. Inclusion criteria were as follows: parent at least 18 years of age, infant's discharge destination is home with the parent, parent will have primary responsibility for the infant after discharge, and the infant's length of stay in the NICU was a minimum of 10 days.


DESIGN/METHOD: Descriptive, survey research.


MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Participants perceived themselves to be confident in all but 2 caregiving activities when caring for their infants in the NICU, but parents projected a change in their level of confidence in their ability to independently complete infant care activities at home.


PRINCIPAL RESULTS: When comparing the self-reported level of confidence in the NICU and the projected level of confidence at home, the levels of confidence decreased for 5 items, increased for 8 items, and remained unchanged for 2 items. All of the items with a decrease in score were the items with the lowest score when performed in the NICU. All of these low-scoring items are caregiving activities that are unique to the post-NICU status of the infant. Interestingly, the parent's projected level of confidence increased for the 8 items focused on handling and interacting with the infant.


CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this research provide evidence that nurses may need to rethink when parents become active participants in their infant's medical-based caregiving activities.