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Neonatal Netw. 2002 Sep-Oct;21(6):31-8.

Cultural differences and parental responses to the preterm infant at risk: strategies for supporting families.

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  • 1Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Perinatal Multicultural Interest Group, Mount Sinai Hospital, Room 775, 600 University Avenue, Toronto, ON M5G 1X5, Canada.


Parenting a preterm infant at risk for developmental disabilities can be a profoundly stressful experience. For parents from minority cultures, language barriers and cultural differences can increase feelings of uncertainty and inability to cope. Research suggests that cultural differences influence not only parents' emotional responses to and perceptions of disability, but also their utilization of services and their interaction with health professionals. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Mount Sinai Hospital (MSH), Toronto, provides care to a culturally diverse community, and approximately 45 percent of patients receiving care represent minority ethnic groups. Although efforts to provide culturally sensitive care have been made, they have tended to be isolated initiatives lacking consistency and coordination. This article describes the initiation and development of a multicultural program at MSH to support families of infants at risk for developmental disabilities. This article provides valuable guidance to other neonatal units that are attempting to support parents from diverse cultural groups.

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