Preterm infants have known impairments in language development relative to infants born at full term, and the language-poor environment of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is a contributing factor. Adapting outpatient literacy programs for the NICU is a potential evidence-based intervention to encourage adult speech exposure to infants through reading sessions during NICU hospitalization.
To evaluate implementation of a 10-day NICU Read-a-Thon and potential barriers and facilitators of a year-round program aimed at increasing reading sessions for NICU patients.
We established an implementation team to execute a Read-a-Thon and evaluated its impact utilizing quantitative and qualitative approaches. Quantitative methodology was used to report number of donated books and infant reading sessions. Qualitative methodology inclusive of interviews, surveys, and source document reviews was used to evaluate the Read-a-Thon.
We received approximately 1300 donated books and logged 663 reading sessions over the 10-day Read-a-Thon. Qualitative evaluation of the Read-a-Thon identified 6 main themes: motivation, emotional response to the program, benefits and outcomes, barriers, facilitators, and future of literacy promotion in our NICU. Our evaluation informed specific aims for improvement (eg, maintaining book accessibility) for a quality improvement initiative to sustain a year-round reading program.
Implications for Practice and Research:
Neonatal units can leverage Read-a-Thons as small tests of change to evaluate barriers, facilitators, and change processes needed to implement reading programs. Process maps of book inventory and conducting a 5 W's, 2 H's (who, what, when, where, why, how, how much) assessment can aid in program planning.