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family-centered care, newborn intensive care, nursing, parent support programs, program evaluation research



  1. Hurst, Irene PhD, RN


As intensive care nursery personnel increasingly seek to provide comprehensive care to families, there is a renewed emphasis on offering family support programs.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to identify parents' utilization and evaluation of a support program based in a newborn intensive care unit (NICU) that offered a combination of formats for support services: group support, one-to-one support, and telephone support.


Methods: Program records and a survey developed by the author documented parental use and evaluation of services. Data analysis consisted of descriptive statistics and qualitative content analysis of demographic data, survey results, and parental comments.


Results: Of the total 477 participants, 78% utilized 1 support service format exclusively. Eighteen percent utilized 2 support formats concurrently. A subsample of 48 parents completed an evaluation survey. Continuity of care was a critical component of the program overall. Group support offered more opportunities for families to problem-solve communication issues with nursery personnel and provide information that assisted parents' involvement in their babies' care.


Conclusions: Parent support programs that utilize only one type of format may not be optimal for providing the range of support needed by many NICU families. Parent support programs offer an important mechanism to assess provider approaches to facilitate family-centered care.