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Counseling for personal care options at neonatal end of life: a quantitative and qualitative parent survey

Journal title
BMC palliative care
Publication year
Shelkowitz, E.; Vessella, S. L.; O'Reilly, P.; Tucker, R.; Lechner, B. E.

BACKGROUND: The death of a newborn is a traumatic life changing event in the lives of parents. We hypothesized that bereaved parents of newborn infants want to have choices in the personal care of their infant at the end of life. METHODS: Parents who had suffered a perinatal or neonatal loss between 1 and 6 years before the survey in a regional level IV neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and associated labor and delivery room were invited to participate. Parents chose between an online survey, paper survey or telephone interview. The survey included multiple choice and open ended questions. RESULTS: Parents prefer multiple options for the personal care of their infant at the end of life. Emergent themes were need for guidance by the medical team, memory making, feeling cared for and respected by staff, and regrets related to missed opportunities. CONCLUSION: While parents differ in their preferences in utilizing specific personal care options for their infant’s end of life, they share a common preference for being presented with multiple options to choose from and in being guided and supported by healthcare providers, while being afforded the opportunity to make memories with their infant by bonding with and parenting them.

Research abstracts