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Int J Nurs Stud. 2004 Jan;41(1):51-8.

Parents' perceptions of their infant's pain experience in the NICU.

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Intensive Care Nursery, Children's Hospital & Research Center, Oakland, CA, USA.


Despite numerous advances in the recognition, assessment, and management of pain in neonates over the past two decades, there has been limited improvement in the knowledge base regarding parental responses to their infant's pain. This study examined parents' views of their experiences observing and coping with their infant's pain in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Twelve participants were recruited using purposive sampling from two groups: (a) parents who had infants currently receiving care in the NICU (n=6); and (b) parents whose infants had been discharged from the NICU and were enrolled in the outpatient follow-up clinic at each hospital (n=6). An exploratory, semi-structured format was used to interview parents individually (n=5) or in focus groups (n=7) regarding their infant's clinical course, infant pain experiences, and the parenting experience during and after the NICU stay. Thematic content analysis was used to develop conceptual categories. Two broad themes were identified: (a) infant pain as a source of parental distress and (b) relief of parental distress due to infant's pain.

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