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Z Geburtshilfe Neonatol. 2017 Oct;221(5):217-225. doi: 10.1055/s-0043-110056. Epub 2017 Jun 7.

[The Need for Psychosocial Support of Parents of Children in Neonatal Care].

[Article in German; Abstract available in German from the publisher]

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Department Pädagogik, Pflege und Gesundheit, MSH Medical School Hamburg.


in English, German

Background Advances in neonatal care have reduced mortality but increased morbidity in babies born pre-maturely or after high-risk pregnancies. However, this often increases the burden on the family and the parents in particular. A systematic review of the literature was conducted that demonstrated the importance of psychosocial support for parents of children in neonatal care. Methods A systematic search of Pubmed, Psyndex, CINAHI and medpilot was conducted. Reference lists of the included articles were also searched for relevant publications. A free-text search found further publications. Together, 78 publications (from 1975-2015) were included in our review. Results A shift from a biomedical model and child-centred treatment to family-centred care has already taken place in neonatal care. However, there is still a considerable gap between theory and practice. Although there is awareness of the need for psychosocial support of parents, the focus of day-to-day care is still on medical interventions and life-supporting treatment for the child. In particular, while the importance of an assessment of needs as a basis for family-centred psychosocial support appears to be well-known, validated screening instruments are rarely used. In addition, the demand for psychosocial support of parents is not just solely determined by the child's medical risk. Conclusions The results highlight the challenges of delivering individualised psychosocial support to families within a healthcare system of limited resources, with practitioners having to take into account the developing parent-child relationship as well as health economics. In future, psychosocial support should be based on evidence rather than intuition. Attachment theory and research, and health psychology can contribute to this development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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