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J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2012 Oct;25(10):2126-9. doi: 10.3109/14767058.2011.648241. Epub 2012 May 10.

Communication in the neonatal intensive care unit: a continuous challenge.

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Pediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, M. Bufalini Hospital, Cesena, Italy.



Communication between the healthcare team and the parents in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is very important, and may affect both trust in medical team and the health of premature babies. The aim of this study is to confirm that a good relationship with families can be obtained if all the healthcare team adopts a good common communication scheme.


We have implemented a communication strategy that works through three stages: (1) Training in Communication: a course about general problems with communication for medical and nursing staff. (2) Communicative Algorithm: various guidelines to follow during the most common scenarios in the NICU. (3) Communicative Case Sheet: a notebook used to record any problem or discomfort that occurs during communication. We applied the strategy for a 12 months trial period.


A Systemic Counselling Institute of Medical Psychology tested families' satisfaction at the end of the period. The test showed that in 75% of cases, satisfaction with communication was very good and in the remaining 25%, parents perceived communication as good, but improvable.


In NICU, communication between the members of the team and the newborn's parents may be improved by specific tools.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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