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Fathering Premature Infants and the Technological Imperative of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: An Interpretive Inquiry

Pohlman, Shawn PhD, RN

Advances in Nursing Science:
doi: 10.1097/ANS.0b013e3181b0d68c
Article
Abstract

The experiences of 9 fathers of premature infants in the technological environment of the neonatal intensive care unit were examined using interpretive methods. Fathers were interviewed 6 to 8 times each. Findings revealed emotional costs for fathers as technology often took precedence. Fathers' feelings of frustration, fear, and alienation were hidden from nurses, as fathers were silent and silenced. Fathers perceived a power dynamic between themselves and nurses, which may be due, in part, to a complex interplay between the technological imperative and gender dynamics. Two exemplars illustrated how fathers forged emotional connections with their babies despite the technological imperative.

In Brief

The experiences of 9 fathers of premature infants in the technological environment of the neonatal intensive care unit were examined using interpretive methods. Findings revealed emotional costs for fathers as technology often took precedence. Two exemplars illustrated how fathers forged emotional connections with their babies despite the technological imperative.

Author Information

Maryville University, St Louis, Missouri.

Corresponding Author: Shawn Pohlman, PhD, RN, 650 Maryville University Drive, St Louis, MO 63141 (spohlman@maryville.edu).

The author thanks Lee Smith-Battle, Nancy Cibulka, and Lottchen Wider for their thoughtful review of the manuscript; Teresa Buettner for her careful transcription of the interviews; and the National Institutes of Nursing Research and the Foundation for Neonatal Research and Education for their financial support of this work. This article is dedicated to Kenny, an inspirational man who taught the author so much about fathering and the author herself.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.