Objectives: To examine the effects of a parent book reading intervention in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) on parent-infant interaction and on the incidence of parents reading to their infants 3 months post-NICU discharge.
Methods: A nonrandomized, participant blinded intervention study using a historical control group (CG) was conducted. The intervention group (IG: n = 59) consisted of parents of infants admitted to the NICU after the introduction of the parent reading program. The CG (n = 57) consisted of parents of infants discharged from the NICU in the 3-month period before the introduction of the reading program. Questionnaires were mailed to participants 3 months after their infant's discharge and completed verbally, over the telephone. Groups were compared on parenting activities and reading. In addition, a thematic analysis of qualitative descriptive data provided insight into the parents' experiences with reading to their infants.
Results: Sixty-nine percent of IG parents reported that reading helped them feel closer to their baby, and 86% reported it was enjoyable. Parents reported an increased sense of control and normalcy and increased intimacy with their infant. Twice as many parents in the IG reported reading 3 or more times a week to their infants (55.9% IG; 23.3% CG).
Conclusion: Study results support the use of a parent book-reading intervention in the NICU to enhance parent-infant interactions and promote reading.