Together for Short Lives
Call the Helpline 0808 8088 100

What follows newborn screening? An evaluation of a residential education program for parents of infants with newly diagnosed cystic fibrosis

Publication year
Sawyer, S. M.; Glazner, J. A.

OBJECTIVE: The diagnosis of a severe life-limiting condition, such as cystic fibrosis (CF), is generally followed by assessment and treatment of the child and education and counseling for parents. The introduction of newborn screening for CF provides an opportunity for standardized assessment and education. The aim of this study was to evaluate a 5-day residential assessment and education program for parents of infants who receive a diagnosis of CF after newborn screening. METHODS: Eligible parents had a 6- to 30-month-old infant with CF diagnosed by newborn screening. Parents were interviewed by telephone using a structured questionnaire that addressed 3 main themes: 1) initial communication of the diagnosis of CF, 2) the perceived value of the 5-day assessment and education program, and 3) the perceived advantages and disadvantages of the residential component (Care-By-Parent unit) of the program. RESULTS: Fifteen of 17 eligible families took part in the 5-day assessment and education program, 12 of whom used the residential Care-By-Parent unit. At the end of the program, parents believed that they had the knowledge and skills required to manage their child’s CF at home. One hundred percent endorsed the timing of the assessment and education program immediately after the child’s diagnosis and would recommend it to other families in the same situation. Perceived advantages of the residential program were not having to travel (89%), being able to concentrate on CF (50%), and the benefit of a "home base" at the hospital (39%). Twenty-two percent reported that financial costs related to participation (paternal time off work) were a disadvantage, 17% reported additional strain on family members caring for siblings, and 17% mentioned lack of comfort within the unit. CONCLUSIONS: This time-intensive residential program was evaluated positively by parents of children with newly diagnosed CF. It provides a model for education programs after the diagnosis of CF by newborn screening, as well as for other pediatric conditions that require intensive parent education.

Research abstracts