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Neonatal Netw. 2000 Apr;19(3):13-21.

Mothers' stories about their experiences in the neonatal intensive care unit.

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  • 1Department of Children's Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing, CB# 7460 Carrington Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 37599-7460, USA.


The purpose of this article is to let mothers tell the stories of their neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) experiences and to determine how well these experiences fit the Preterm Parental Distress Model. Interviews were conducted with 31 mothers when their infants were six months of age corrected for prematurity and were analyzed using the conceptual model as a framework. The analysis verified the presence in the data of the six major sources of stress indicated in the Preterm Parental Distress Model: (1) pre-existing and concurrent personal and family factors, (2) prenatal and perinatal experiences, (3) infant illness, treatments, and appearance in the NICU, (4) concerns about the infant's outcomes, (5) loss of the parental role, and (6) health care providers. The study indicates that health care providers, and especially nurses, can have a major role in reducing parental distress by maintaining ongoing communication with parents and providing competent care for their infants.

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