1. Merritt, Linda PhD, RNC-NIC, CNE
  2. Spencer, Becky PhD, RN, IBCLC


Background: To effectively practice true family-centered care (FCC) in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) setting, a nurse needs to understand the perceptions and concerns of all fathers. Although research is emerging on fathers' perceptions and experiences, the samples of fathers represented are not from diverse socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic populations, which limit the findings' generalizability.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the needs of NICU fathers and whether these needs differed based on sociodemographic factors.


Methods: A quantitative, comparative, descriptive design was used to determine the needs of NICU fathers. Additional analysis was conducted to determine whether the needs differed based on education, income, and gestational age, whether the father preferred speaking English or Spanish, and whether these sociodemographic factors could predict needs. To determine sociodemographic factors and needs, a demographic questionnaire and the NICU Family Needs Inventory were administered to 99 fathers in 6 level III NICUs.


Results: Data were analyzed using independent sample t test, 1-way analysis of variance, and multiple linear regression. The results showed that fathers reported a broad span of needs and fathers from disadvantaged populations may have greater needs in certain areas.


Implications for Practice: These results emphasize the importance of the nurses' role in assessing the needs of NICU fathers. By understanding fathers' needs, nurses can provide individualized FCC to fathers to help them be more involved in the care and support of their infant.


Implications for Research: Further research is needed to support these findings and test interventions that promote communication between providers and fathers.