Infant, premature, Parenting, Qualitative research



  1. Swartz, Martha K. PhD, RN, CPNP


Purpose: To synthesize the findings of qualitative studies on parenting preterm infants and present a framework that will enable clinical nurses to provide better care.


Study Design and Methods: A meta-ethnographic approach was used to synthesize the findings of 10 qualitative research studies that focused on parenting the preterm infant upon hospital discharge and on into the toddler years.


Results: Five themes of parenting preterm infants emerged: adapting to risk, protecting fragility, preserving the family, compensating for the past, and cautiously affirming the future.


Clinical Implications: Nurses provide expert care, anticipatory guidance, and education for NICU babies and families, but should also foster the inclusion of all family members in the NICU setting, provide opportunities for parental peer support, establish effective systems of continuity of care, and advocate for parents of preterms in policy-making arenas.