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.