1. Shafey, Amy MD, MSc
  2. Benzies, Karen PhD, RN
  3. Amin, Reshma MD, MSc
  4. Stelfox, Henry T. PhD, MD
  5. Shah, Vibhuti MD, MSc


Background: The Family Integrated Care (FICare) program adapted for Alberta (AB) level II neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) aims to increase parental involvement and support during their NICU stay. The experience of fathers of preterm infants in a FICare program is currently unknown.


Purpose: To describe the experiences of fathers of preterm infants born at 320/7 to 346/7 weeks' gestational age with AB FICare.


Methods: A qualitative substudy of a multicenter prospective cluster randomized controlled trial of FICare in 10 level II NICUs across Alberta. Fathers of preterm infants participated in a semistructured interview after discharge when their infants were at least 2 months' corrected gestational age. Journal entries written by fathers while in the NICU from the FICare intervention sites were also collected. Data were analyzed thematically and the interview and journal data were triangulated.


Findings: Thirteen fathers (9 from the FICare intervention and 4 from standard care) participated in semistructured interviews and there were 24 journals collected. Seven themes emerged: fear of the unknown, mental preparation, identifying the father's role, parenting with supervision, effective communication, postneonatal intensive care transition, and family life. Fathers enrolled in AB FICare attributed their level of confidence and positive neonatal intensive care experience that continued postdischarge to the care and attention they received during hospitalization.


Conclusion: AB FICare may improve experiences for fathers of preterm infants in the NICU with continuation postdischarge. Future research should include designing and evaluating father-specific NICU programs.