1. Yance, Brittany BRLS
  2. Do, Kayla BKin
  3. Heath, Jenna RN
  4. Fucile, Sandra PhD, OT Reg (Ont)


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted parents' ability to participate in their infants' care during the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) stay in unprecedented ways.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the lived experience of parents whose infants was in the NICU during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Methods: A qualitative telephone interview survey was conducted. Participants included parents of preterm infants who were born less than 34 weeks' gestation during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic (March 2020-August 2020). Telephone surveys were conducted through open-ended questions. A thematic content analysis identifying themes was performed after interviews were completed and transcribed.


Results: A total of 8 mothers completed the telephone survey. Key themes from this study include parents experiencing increased stress due to the restricted visitation policies, limited opportunities to care for their infant, lack of support, and inconsistent communication regarding their infant status and COVID-19 protocols.


Implications for Practice: Suggestions provided to enhance NICU services during the pandemic include increasing parental engagement opportunities to care for their infant in the NICU, enhanced empathy and compassion from the neonatal team, and open and transparent communication.


Implications for Research: Further research investigating cultural impact on parents' perspectives, perspectives of fathers, long-term impact of how parents coped after discharge from the NICU, and emotional impact on NICU staff members may be beneficial to aid improvements in NICU service delivery during the ongoing and future pandemic.