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Implementing Family-Integrated Care in the NICU: A Parent Education and Support Program

Bracht, Marianne RN, RSCN; O'Leary, Lori MEd; Lee, Shoo K. MBBS, FRCPC, PhD; O'Brien, Karel MB, BCh, BAO, FRCPC, MSc

Section Editor(s): Forsythe, Paula

doi: 10.1097/ANC.0b013e318285fb5b
The Long Road Home

The purpose of this study was to develop, implement, and evaluate a parent education and support program that enhances family-integrated care in a Canadian neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). A total of 39 mothers of infants born at 35 or fewer weeks' gestation were enrolled in the pilot program. We examined the development, implementation, and qualitative assessment of the education component of a family-integrated care program. We enrolled in groups of 4 or 5, the study mothers agreed to attend daily educational sessions, provide care for their infants for at least 8 hours daily, and participate in medical rounds. The educational sessions were provided by staff and veteran parents to assist parents' development of confidence in providing caregiving skills and assuming the role of a primary caregiver for their infants as they moved closer to discharge. Effectiveness of the program was evaluated through anecdotal feedback and a formal evaluation process at discharge. The results indicated that the mothers were provided with the tools to parent their infants in the NICU, recognize their own strengths, increase their problem-solving strategies, and emotionally prepare them to take their infant home. Feedback from the participants provided direction to adapt the program to provide optimal parent support and education. Parental education is a valued and vital component of family-integrated care in the NICU.

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Mount Sinai Hospital (Mss Bracht and O'Leary), Department of Paediatrics, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, and Department of Public Health, University of Toronto (Dr Lee), and Department of Paediatrics, University of Toronto (Dr O'Brien), Ontario, Canada.

Correspondence: Karel O'Brien, MB, BCh, BAO, FRCPC, MSc, Department of Paediatrics, University of Toronto, Rm 775A, 600 University Ave, Toronto, ON M5G 1X5, Canada (

This project was funded by the Preterm Birth and Healthy Outcomes Team and an Alberta Innovates—Health Solutions Interdisciplinary Team grant (200700595), with organizational support from the Maternal-Infant Care Research Centre (MiCare), which is supported by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Ontario, Canada.

The work was undertaken in the neonatal intensive care unit of Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The authors wish to thank the Family Integrated Care Steering Committee, our veteran parents, the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) educators, NICU staff, Salena Mohamed, and Yenge Diambomba for their dedication to this project and without whom it would not have been possible. They also wish to thank Dr Ruth Warre from the Maternal-Infant Care Research Centre for providing editorial support.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

© 2013 National Association of Neonatal Nurses