“All these people saved her life, but she needs me too”: Understanding and responding to parental mental health in the NICU

Susanne Klawetter, Nazan Cetin, Passion Ilea, Cindy McEvoy, Dmitry Dukhovny, Sage N. Saxton, Monica Rincon, Jessica Rodriguez-JenKins, Christina Nicolaidis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: To explore the mental health needs of parents of infants in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), as well as barriers and solutions to meeting these needs. Design: Qualitative interviews conducted with parents and staff (n = 15) from a level IV NICU in the Northwestern United States. Thematic analysis completed using an inductive approach, at a semantic level. Results: (1) Information and mental health needs change over time, (2) Staff-parent relationships buffer trauma and distress, (3) Lack of continuity of care impacts response to mental health concerns, (4) NICU has a critical role in addressing parental mental health. Conclusion: Mental health support should be embedded and tailored to the NICU trajectory, with special attention to the discharge transition, parents living in rural areas, and non-English-speaking parents. Research should address structural factors that may impact mental health such as integration of wholistic services, language barriers, and staff capacity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Perinatology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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