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Parental experience of interaction with healthcare professionals during their infant’s stay in the neonatal intensive care unit
  1. Katie Gallagher1,
  2. Chloe Shaw1,
  3. Narendra Aladangady2,
  4. Neil Marlow1
  1. 1 UCL Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Institute for Women’s Health, University College London, London, UK
  2. 2 Neonatal Unit, Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Homerton Row, London and Queen Mary’s University of London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Katie Gallagher, UCL Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Institute for Women’s Health, University College London, 74 Huntley Street, London WC1E 6AU, UK; katie.gallagher{at}


Objective To explore the experiences of parents of infants admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit towards interaction with healthcare professionals during their infants critical care.

Design Semi-structured interviews were conducted with parents of critically ill infants admitted to neonatal intensive care and prospectively enrolled in a study of communication in critical care decision making. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and uploaded into NVivo V.10 to manage and facilitate data analysis. Thematic analysis identified themes representing the data.

Results Nineteen interviews conducted with 14 families identified 4 themes: (1) initial impact of admission affecting transition into the neonatal unit; (2) impact of consistency of care, care givers and information giving; (3) impact of communication in facilitating or hindering parental autonomy, trust, parental expectations and interactions; (4) parental perception of respect and humane touches on the neonatal unit.

Conclusion Factors including the context of infant admission, interprofessional consistency, humane touches of staff and the transition into the culture of the neonatal unit are important issues for parents. These issues warrant further investigation to facilitate individualised family needs, attachment between parents and their baby and the professional team.

  • neonatal intensive care
  • parents
  • engagement
  • communication
  • interaction

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  • Contributors KG, NM and NA conceived the study. KG and CS developed the interview schedule. CS conducted the interviews. KG and CS conducted data analysis. NM and NA reviewed the data analysis. KG drafted the initial manuscript. CS, NM and NA critically reviewed the manuscript. KG, CS, NA and NM all approved the final manuscript as submitted.

  • Funding This study was supported by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Programme Development Grant (award: RG-DG-0611-10006). The Department of Health and NIHR had no role in the preparation, review or approval of the manuscript, and the decision to submit for publication. NM receives part funding from the Department of Health’s NIHR Biomedical Research Centre’s funding scheme at UCLH/UCL.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Patient/guardian consent obtained.

  • Ethics approval North East London Research Ethics Committee (Ref. 12/lo/1949) and Research and Development Department of the participating NHS Trust (PA1301).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Full details of thematic analysis can be made available on request.