1. Merritt, Linda PhD, RNC-NIC, CNE
  2. Maxwell, Jazmine SN
  3. Urbanosky, Cameryn SN


Background: Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurses need a better understanding of fathers' needs and perceptions in order to provide more family holistic care. Previous research aimed at exploring fathers' experiences in the NICU resulted in identifying some needs; however, these studies mostly occurred outside the United States where practices may differ. Therefore, research is needed to explore NICU fathers' needs within the United States.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the needs of fathers who previously had a premature infant in the NICU.


Methods: This qualitative descriptive study used semistructured interviews collected to obtain in-depth knowl-edge of fathers' needs in the NICU. Twenty-eight fathers were recruited through 3 parent support organizations: Hand to Hold, NICU Parent Support Network, and March of Dimes.


Results: Results revealed 3 themes: need for support, clarity and to be recognized.


Implications for Practice: Fathers have specific needs in the NICU that need to be addressed and that may differ from mothers. Awareness of addressing fathers' needs promotes more holistic care to fathers, supports coping within the NICU environment and the multifaceted impact of the experience, and helps them engage in the care of their infant.


Implications for Research: Further research is needed to explore the needs of fathers from diverse backgrounds and those who perceive to be or are less involved in their infant's care as well as their experiences and needs related to the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Comparative research is also needed to identify differences between mothers' and fathers' needs in order to determine interventions that promoting more holistic, family-centered care.