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  1. Zhang, Xin MSN, RN
  2. Kurtz, Melissa MSN, MA, RN
  3. Lee, Shih-Yu PhD, RNC
  4. Liu, Huaping PhD, RN, FAAN


This systematic review evaluates the efficacy of various early interventions on maternal emotional outcomes, mother-infant interaction, and subsequent infant outcomes during neonatal intensive care unit admission and postdischarge. Key interventions associated with outcomes in both the neonatal intensive care unit and postdischarge (ie, home) settings are summarized. A comprehensive search of peer-reviewed randomized controlled trials involving early interventions for infants and their mother published between 1993 and 2013 in the electronic databases PubMed, CINAHL, EMBASE, PsychINFO, and Cochrane was undertaken. Methodological quality was assessed using the PEDro scale to evaluate internal and external validity of the study. Twelve randomized controlled trials were included in the review, and all used some form of parenting education. The interventions had limited effects on maternal stress and mother-infant interaction and positive effects on maternal anxiety, depressive symptoms, and maternal coping. There were positive effects on infants' short-term outcomes for length of stay and breast-feeding rate. Positive and clinically meaningful effects of early interventions were seen in some physiological/psychological outcomes of mothers and preterm infants. It is important for nurses to foster close mother-infant contact and increase maternal competence during and after the infant's hospitalization period.