Family-provider relationships and well-being in families with preterm infants in the NICU

Heart Lung. Jan-Feb 2001;30(1):74-84. doi: 10.1067/mhl.2001.110625.


Objective: The purposes of this study were the following: (1) to describe maternal perceptions of family-provider relationships in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and (2) to examine associations between maternal perceptions of family-provider relationships in the NICU and well-being in families with preterm infants.

Design: The study's design was descriptive and correlational.

Setting: The study took place in 5 NICUs in midwestern United States.

Participants: The study included 55 mothers of preterm infants hospitalized in the NICU.

Measures: Self-report measures: the Family-Provider Relationships Instrument-NICU, Ryff's measure of psychologic well-being, and the General Scale of the Family Assessment Measure.

Results: Mothers of preterm infants who depicted their family's relationship with their child's primary health care providers in the NICU as positive and family-centered reported more satisfaction with the care received. In addition, these mothers expressed a greater willingness to seek help from health care providers. When mothers reported a discrepancy between what they wanted the family-provider relationships to be like and what they believed the relationship was like, they were less satisfied with care received. Mothers who wanted and believed they had positive family-centered relationships with providers were more satisfied with the care received and they reported higher levels of psychologic well-being.

Conclusion: The nature of the relationships that families develop with health care providers in the NICU may have a profound influence on how individuals and families respond to the experience of having a preterm infant. Health care providers who incorporate the key elements of family-centered care into their practice can have a positive influence on well-being in families of preterm infants.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Family
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Male
  • Mothers*
  • Nurse-Patient Relations*
  • Ohio
  • Patient Satisfaction*