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Factors Affecting Time NICU Nurses Spend With Fathers

Results From a Larger Study

Clarkson, Gina PhD, APRN, NNP-BC; Gilmer, Mary Jo PhD, MBA, RN-BC, FAAN

Section Editor(s): Dowling, Donna PhD, RN; ; Thibeau, Shelley PhD, RNC-NIC;

doi: 10.1097/ANC.0000000000000646
Original Research

Background: Father involvement in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is important for outcomes of children and should be encouraged. Neonatal nurses have been identified as a major source of support for fathers; yet, nurses have identified obstacles to family-centered care of the father.

Purpose: The purpose of this article is to present results that broaden the knowledge of factors that affect time NICU nurses spend with fathers. The information presented here is a portion of results from a larger survey that examined factors affecting NICU nurse caring beliefs of fathers.

Methods: This survey study included NICU nurses and was administered anonymously online. Content analysis was completed on responses to open-ended questions.

Results: Questions asked nurses about the time they spend with fathers. Nurses described problems with workflow and encouraged family bonding. Some nurses described spending equal amounts of time with both parents, whereas others focused on either the mother or the father. Paternal attributes that affected time nurses spent with fathers included confidence, motivation, level of competence, beliefs, attitudes, and availability. Maternal factors included culture and gatekeeping. Infant factors were level of illness and tolerance to activity.

Implications for Practice: Unmotivated fathers may benefit from encouragement from nurses to participate in the care of their infants. Nurses can encourage parental partnerships in caring for their infants.

Implications for Research: Factors identified in this study can help guide future studies. Understanding the relationship between NICU fathers and nurses can help improve interactions and communication.

College of Nursing, Idaho State University, Pocatello (Dr Clarkson); and School of Nursing, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee (Dr Gilmer)

Correspondence: Gina Clarkson, PhD, APRN, NNP-BC, College of Nursing, Idaho State University, 921 S. 8th Ave, Stop 8101, Pocatello, ID 83209 (

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2019 by The National Association of Neonatal Nurses