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Smartphone and Internet Preferences of Parents: Information Needs and Desired Involvement in Infant Care and Pain Management in the NICU

Orr, Talia BScN; Campbell-Yeo, Marsha PhD, NNP-BC, RN; Benoit, Britney MSc(A)N, RN; Hewitt, Brenda MN, RN, CNCCP(C), BCLC; Stinson, Jennifer PhD, RN-E, CPNP; McGrath, Patrick OC, PhD, FRSC

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

doi: 10.1097/ANC.0000000000000349
Original Research

Background: Despite an abundance of research that identifies the benefits for both parent and child when parents are actively involved in their infant's care, challenges related to the best methods to engage families persist.

Purpose: To conduct a feasibility study that aims to understand the preferences of smartphone and Internet use by parents of infants admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) related to information seeking and active participation in infant care, with a focus on pain management interventions.

Methods: A paper-based survey was distributed to 90 parents in a tertiary-level NICU from September to November 2013.

Results: Response rate was 80% (72 of the 90). Ninety-seven percent accessed the Internet daily, 87% using their smartphone, and ranked it as an important source of NICU information (81%), more than books (56%) and brochures (33%). Participants reported a desire to have more information on how they could provide general comfort (96%), as well as greater participation in comforting their baby during painful procedures (94%).

Implications for Practice: Parents in the NICU want more information and greater involvement in their infant's care and pain management and place a higher value on the Internet compared with traditional resources.

Implications for Research: Researchers and clinicians should work together to determine the quality of online resources to better support and evaluate parent use of the Internet as a health information resource. Future studies should examine parental preference regarding the optimal balance between online sources and face-to-face interactions.

Women's and Newborn Health Program, IWK Health Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (Mss Orr and Hewitt and Dr Campbell-Yeo); School of Nursing, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (Dr Campbell-Yeo and Ms Benoit); Centre for Pediatric Pain Research, IWK Health Center, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (Drs Campbell-Yeo and McGrath and Ms Benoit); Departments of Pediatrics, Psychology and Neuroscience, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (Dr Campbell-Yeo); Department of Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Dr Stinson); Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Dr Stinson); and Faculty of Science and Departments of Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Community Health and Epidemiology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (Dr McGrath).

Correspondence: Marsha Campbell-Yeo, PhD, NNP-BC, RN, Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Profession, Dalhousie University, 5869 University Ave, PO Box 15000, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2, Canada (

Campbell-Yeo is supported by a Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Program Career Development Award. Talia Orr was supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Summer Studentship. Britney Benoit is supported by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation (NSHRF) Scotia Scholar Doctoral Award, Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Doctoral Scholarship, Dalhousie University School of Nursing Doctoral Scholarship, Helen Watson Memorial Scholarship, and IWK Health Centre Ruby Blois Scholarship. Jennifer Stinson is supported by a CIHR New Investigator award and Mary Jo Haddad Chair in Nursing Research. Patrick McGrath was supported by a Canada Research Chair.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2017 by The National Association of Neonatal Nurses