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Improving Staff Knowledge and Attitudes Toward Providing Psychosocial Support to NICU Parents Through an Online Education Course

Hall, Sue L. MD; Famuyide, Mobolaji E. MD; Saxton, Sage N. PsyD; Moore, Tiffany A. PhD, RN; Mosher, Sara RN, MHA; Sorrells, Keira BSFCS; Milford, Cheryl A. EdS; Craig, Jenene PhD, MBA, OTR/L, CNT

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

doi: 10.1097/ANC.0000000000000649
Original Research: PDF Only

Background: Provider–parent communication is a critical determinant of how neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) parents cope, yet staff feel inadequately trained in communication techniques; many parents are not satisfied with the support they receive from hospital providers.

Purpose: This study evaluated whether NICU staff would demonstrate improved knowledge and attitudes about providing psychosocial support to parents after taking an online course.

Methods: After providing demographic information, staff at 2 NICUs took a 33-item survey both before and after taking a 7-module online course “Caring for Babies and Their Families,” and again at 6-month follow-up. Scores (means ± standard deviation) from all time periods were compared and effect sizes calculated for each of the course modules.

Results: NICU staff participants (n = 114) included nurses (88%), social workers (7%), physicians (4%), and occupational therapists (1%). NICU staff showed significant improvement in both knowledge and attitudes in all modules after taking the course, and improvements in all module subscores remained significant at the 6-month follow-up mark. Night staff and staff with less experience had lower pretest scores on several items, which improved on posttest.

Implications for Practice: This course, developed by an interprofessional group that included graduate NICU parents, was highly effective in improving staff knowledge and attitudes regarding the provision of psychosocial support to NICU parents, and in eliminating differences related to shift worked and duration of work experience in the NICU.

Implications for Research: Future research should evaluate course efficacy across NICU disciplines beyond nursing, impact on staff performance, and whether parent satisfaction with care is improved.

St John's Regional Medical Center, Oxnard, California (Dr Hall); Division of Neonatology, University of Mississippi Medical School, Jackson (Dr Famuyide); Departments of Pediatrics and Neonatology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland (Dr Saxton); College of Nursing, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha (Dr Moore); Patient+Family Care, Bend, Oregon (Ms Mosher); Preemie Parent Alliance, Jackson, Mississippi (Ms Sorrells); Cheryl Milford Consulting, Manhattan Beach, California (Ms Milford); and Brenau University School of Occupational Therapy, Gainesville, Georgia (Dr Craig).

Correspondence: Sue L. Hall, MD, 145 N. Crimea Street, Ventura, CA 93001 (

This work was supported in part by unrestricted support from Medela, The Wellness Network, and Prolacta Bioscience.

Dr. Hall is a consultant for The Wellness Network.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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© 2019 by The National Association of Neonatal Nurses