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Parents’ views about infant pain in neonatal intensive care

Publication year
Franck, L. S.; Allen, A.; Cox, S.; Winter, I.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to describe parents’ perceptions and feelings about their infant’s pain experience and pain care in the neonatal intensive care unit. METHOD: Thematic content analysis was used to encode the qualitative information contained in parents’ written comments on a questionnaire about their views on infant pain and pain care. The questionnaire was completed by 257 parents from 9 neonatal units in the United Kingdom (n = 196) and 2 neonatal units in the United States (n = 61). RESULTS: Parents’ comments indicated that they saw medical procedures as the major source of their infant’s pain, wanted more information, and generally desired more involvement in this aspect of their infant’s care. Parents’ comments indicated that their infant’s pain affected them emotionally and that they worried about their future relationship with their infant. Parents also articulated specific ways in which health care professionals could assist them and their infants in coping with neonatal intensive care unit-related pain. DISCUSSION: The findings from this study expand knowledge about how parents understand and respond to the difficult situation in which their newborn infant is subjected to essential but painful procedures. The findings provide direction for research and clinical practice interventions aimed at: 1) helping parents to gain knowledge and correct their misperceptions; 2) engaging parents in meaningful dialog about their concerns and preferences for involvement; and 3) helping parents to develop effective coping strategies to reduce psychologic distress related to their infant’s pain.

Research abstracts