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Open Access Research article

Conditions for parents' participation in the care of their child in neonatal intensive care – a field study

Helena Wigert*, Anna-Lena Hellström and Marie Berg

Author Affiliations

Institute of Health and Care Sciences, The Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg, Göteborg, Sweden

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BMC Pediatrics 2008, 8:3  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-8-3

Published: 23 January 2008

Abstract

Background

To promote participation by parents in the care of their child in neonatal intensive care units (NICU), health professionals need better understanding of what facilitates and what obstructs participation. The aim was to elucidate conditions for parents' participation in the care of their child in NICUs.

Methods

A field study with a hermeneutic lifeworld approach was used and data were collected at two NICUs through participative observations and interviews with representatives of management, staff and parents.

Results

The results point to a number of contradictions in the way parents were offered the opportunity to participate in neonatal intensive care. Management and staff both had good ambitions to develop ideal care that promoted parent participation. However, the care including the conditions for parental participation was driven by the terms of the staff, routines focusing on the medical-technical care and environment, and budgetary constraints.

Conclusion

The result shows that tangible strategies need to be developed in NICUs aimed at optimising conditions for parents to be present and involved in the care of their child.