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  1. Setiawan, Jennifer BSci
  2. Mannix, Trudi DEd, RM
  3. Sweet, Linda PhD, RM


A neonatal early discharge (NED) program is a supported process where preterm infants leave hospital before they have established full sucking feeds and are gavage fed by their parents while they transition to breast- and/or bottle-feeds. While there is some evidence in the literature describing the outcomes of this process for preterm infants, there is even more limited evidence of the effects and outcomes of these NED programs on parents. The objective of this study was to summarize and critically appraise the literature regarding the effects of NED on parents. A literature search was conducted for English language publications since 2007 using MEDLINE, Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), PsycINFO, and Google Scholar. A total of 20 primary articles met the inclusion criteria for the review. An integrative thematic synthesis identified 4 themes: establishing parenting skills/confidence; bonding with the newborn; psychological distress; and the need for support and resources. Findings suggest that parents have various concerns regarding discharge from the neonatal unit and therefore support from healthcare professionals and family plays a crucial role during the experience. There were also various external factors such as socioeconomic status and cultural differences that impact on parents differently, and it is therefore challenging to draw definite conclusions. This warrants further research in the area.