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  1. Feeley, Nancy PhD, RN
  2. Sherrard, Kathyrn MSc(A), RN
  3. Waitzer, Elana MSc(A), RN
  4. Boisvert, Linda MN, RN


Father's involvement is important to child development, yet little is known about how fathers are involved with their newborns in neonatal intensive care. The purpose of this study was to describe patterns of fathers' involvement with their infants during hospitalization. Eighteen fathers of infants hospitalized were interviewed and asked to describe how they were involved with their infants. Interview, sociodemographic, and infant medical data were analyzed using cross-case analysis to describe patterns of involvement. Three patterns were identified. Equal to mother fathers perceived their involvement to be the same as the mothers'. They were intrinsically motivated, not working, and spent many hours daily with their infants. They engaged in skin-to-skin care and bathed their infants. Mother more important fathers viewed the mothers' role as more important. They were working, visited a few hours most days, and perceived their role as supporting the mothers. Reluctant fathers were reticent to become involved, described extrinsic sources of motivation, and were fearful of handling their infants. Not all fathers wish to be involved to the same extent with their infants. Nurses need to assess fathers' preferences and facilitate involvement to the extent that they feel comfortable.