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Health Literacy and Preferences for Sources of Child Health Information of Mothers With Infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Skeens, Kristen BSN, RN; Logsdon, M. Cynthia PhD, WHNP-BC, FAAN; Stikes, Reetta MSN, RNC-NIC, CLC; Ryan, Lesa BA; Sparks, Kathryn BA; Hayes, Pauline BSN, RN; Myers, John PhD, MPH; Davis, Deborah Winders PhD

Section Editor(s): Dowling, Donna

doi: 10.1097/ANC.0000000000000280
Original Research

Background: Parents of infants hospitalized in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) frequently need guidance to prepare them for the care and health promotion of their child after hospital discharge. The health literacy of the parents should be considered so that education can be tailored to meet their needs. It is also important to understand the parents' preferences for how, and from whom, they receive education.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to identify health literacy levels of parents of infants in an NICU and preferences for who they want to provide them with education.

Methods: An exploratory, descriptive design was used to assess participant health literacy and preferences for obtaining child health information. Only mothers (no fathers) with babies in the NICU were available to complete the survey. Mean participant age was 26.4 years (SD = 6.7).

Results: Participants had a mean Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine, Revised, score of 5.64 (SD = 2.4), indicating a low level of health literacy. Questions regarding when to administer medication were correctly answered by 69% of participants. Proper medication dosage was understood by 92% of participants; however, only 30% were able to correctly convert measurements. One-on-one discussions with a physician were the preferred source of health information for 80% of participants.

Implications for Practice/Research: The current exploratory study provides new information that will help inform the development of future studies and increase awareness of nurses regarding health literacy and the specific types of skills for which parents need the most help.

Center for Women & Infants (Mss Skeens and Hayes) and James Graham Brown Cancer Center (Ms Sparks and Dr Logsdon), University of Louisville Hospital (Ms Stikes), Louisville, Kentucky; and School of Nursing (Dr Logsdon), and Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine (Ms Ryan and Drs Myers and Davis), University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky.

Correspondence: M. Cynthia Logsdon, PhD, WHNP-BC, FAAN, School of Nursing, University of Louisville, South Floyd St, Louisville, KY 40202 (

Data were collected at the University of Louisville Hospital.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2016 by The National Association of Neonatal Nurses