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Editor—The letter from Dellagrammaticas and Iacovidou1 provides interesting information and further support to the conclusion of our study2: namely, that neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) from Southern European countries (Italy, Spain, and, according to Dellagrammaticas, also Greece) adopt more restrictive parental visiting policies than in Northern countries. We agree that exploring the role of parents in decision making is much more complex, and that data collected through a structured questionnaire completed by the unit coordinator represent “only” that unit's policy, “that is the intention and stance of each unit” towards the issue at hand. In fact, this was precisely the aim of our study: to describe and compare NICUs' policies in the various countries.
In a separate part of the EURONIC project we also interviewed individual staff members (both doctors and nurses), asking for their views and practises regarding parental involvement in decision making. Overall, results match quite closely with findings from the NICUs policy study. It would certainly be very interesting to obtain the parents' views on the issue; however, results from interviews with parents carried out by an NICU's staff during a baby's hospital stay should be interpreted with caution, given the understandable tendency of interviewed parents to comply with perceived wishes and ideas of the staff caring for their baby.
2nd World Congress of the Pediatric Thoracic Disciplines April 26–8, 2000; Izmir, Turkey
Further details: Prof Dr Oktay Mutaf, Ege University Faculty of Medicine, Pediatric Surgery Department. Fax: +90 232 3751288; email: