Cross-sectional survey of factors associated with paternal involvement in the neonatal intensive care unit

Gina Clarkson, Mary Jo Gilmer, Elizabeth Moore, Mary S. Dietrich, Brent A. McBride

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Aim and objective: To describe factors associated with father involvement in the neonatal intensive care unit using the Heuristic model of the dynamic of parental behaviour and influence on children over time. Background: Research shows that infants with involved fathers have better cognitive development, fewer crying episodes after caesarean birth, improved breastfeeding exclusivity and duration, and more regular sleep patterns. Preterm infants with involved fathers have improved cognitive development. Design: This cross-sectional exploratory study used survey methodology to explore factors associated with father involvement in the neonatal intensive care unit. Methods: The STROBE checklist for cross-sectional studies was used (see Appendix S2). Biological fathers of infants in a 97-bed neonatal intensive care unit in the southern USA completed a survey which asked about their involvement with their hospitalised infants and factors which affected that involvement. Eighty fathers completed the survey. Results: Age ranged between 20–53 with 43% first-time fathers. Compared to less involved fathers, fathers who were more involved were younger, married or living with the mother, performed kangaroo care or fathers of multiple gestation. Fathers who had attended the delivery were more likely to bathe their infants than those who had not attended the delivery and fathers who performed kangaroo care felt more confident than those who did not. Compared to fathers who visited less often, fathers who visited more often were younger, had infants with a shorter hospitalisation time and lower acuity, and had fewer children in the family. Conclusions: Fathers are involved with their neonatal intensive care unit infants in many ways. Factors were identified that affect involvement in the neonatal intensive care unit. Relevance to clinical practice: Results can help nurses in neonatal intensive care units worldwide facilitate father–infant interaction, identify fathers at risk for decreased involvement and advocate for institutional policy development for supporting neonatal intensive care unit father involvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3977-3990
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Volume28
Issue number21-22
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

Keywords

  • family-centred care
  • hospitalized child
  • infant
  • neonatal care
  • survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)

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