Objective To assess the effect of data collection period on the self-reported parental needs and stress among mothers and fathers of very preterm infants hospitalised in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU).
Methods Between January and September 2013, parents were interviewed 8 to 14 days or 15 to 22 days after admission, in a level III NICU in the North of Portugal. Data were collected through a self-administered questionnaire comprising the NICU Family Needs Inventory and the Parental Stress Scale in NICU. The present analysis included 24 pairs of mothers and fathers.
Results An increase in the parental perception of comfort and support needs as very important was observed 15 to 22 days after admission, comparing to the perception assessed 8 to 14 days after admission (36.8% vs. 40.0%; 31.6% vs. 45.0%, respectively), while the appreciation of assurance (100% vs. 85.0%), proximity (94.7% vs. 85%) and information needs (84.2% vs. 75.0%) has decreased. Regarding parental stress, those interviewed 15 to 22 days after birth were more likely to consider the baby’s looks and behaviours (36.8% vs 55.0%), and changes in parental roles (68.4% vs 80.0%) as very or extremely stressful. However, an attenuation of the overall stress levels among parents interviewed 15 to 22 days after admission was observed.
Conclusion In both moments of assessment, assurance and proximity were the most important parental needs. A longer hospitalisation period suggests a higher relevance of comfort and support needs, as well as an increase on the stress related with parental roles.
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