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Validation and Psychometric Properties of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Parental Beliefs Scale

Melnyk, Bernadette Mazurek; Oswalt, Krista L.; Sidora-Arcoleo, Kimberly

doi: 10.1097/NNR.0000000000000023

Background: Parental perception of their infants and confidence/beliefs about their parenting are among the most salient factors influencing outcomes of preterm infants.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to assess the psychometric properties of scores on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Parental Beliefs Scale (NICU PBS) in a sample of mothers and fathers of preterm infants receiving intensive care. The NICU PBS is a rating instrument designed to assess parental beliefs about their premature infant and their role during hospitalization.

Methods: The sample consisted of 245 mothers and 143 fathers. As part of the Creating Opportunities for Parent Empowerment trial, participants completed the NICU PBS 4–8 days after NICU admission and again approximately 4 days before discharge. Validation data were obtained at various times throughout the study. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to evaluate the NICU PBS factor structure.

Results: A three-factor solution was accepted (Parental Role Confidence, Parent–Baby Interaction, and Knowledge of the NICU). Reliability of scores on the total scale and subscales was high; Cronbach’s alpha ranged from .75 to .91. Test–retest correlations ranged from .84 to .92. Younger maternal age; birth of another child; return to work within the past 12 months; and lower stress, depression, and anxiety were all significantly associated with higher scores on all subscales and the total score. Lower education, lower household income, receipt of Medicaid, and non-White race were associated with higher scores on the parent role confidence subscale and total. Lower household income and receipt of Medicaid were associated with higher Parent–Baby Interaction scores.

Discussion: The NICU PBS can be used reliably with mothers and fathers of premature infants who are hospitalized in the NICU, and it may be a useful scale in predicting parental stress, depression, and anxiety.

Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk, PhD, RN, CPNP/PMHNP, FAAN, is Associate Vice President for Health Promotion, University Chief Wellness Officer, and Dean and Professor, College of Nursing, The Ohio State University, Columbus.

Krista L. Oswalt, PhD, is Research Assistant Professor, Arizona State University, Tempe.

Kimberly Sidora-Arcoleo, PhD, MPH, is Associate Dean for Research & Transdisciplinary Scholarship and Director, Center for Women, Children and Youth, The Ohio State University, Columbus.

Accepted for publication December 9, 2013.

The authors acknowledge funding support for this study from NIH/National Institute of Nursing Research (R01#05077).

The authors have no conflicts of interest to report.

Corresponding author: Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk, PhD, RN, CPNP/PMHNP, FAAN, College of Nursing, Ohio State University, 1585 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210-1289 (e-mail:

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.