Information needs of parents of children admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit: a review of the literature (1990-2008)

Patient Educ Couns. 2009 Aug;76(2):159-73. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2009.01.014. Epub 2009 Mar 24.


Objective: This literature review focuses on information and communication needs of parents of children admitted to the NICU and on their use of information sources in the illness trajectories at NICU.

Methods: Literature search in 4 electronic databases (Ovid Medline, PsycINFO, CINAHL and Sociological Abstracts), covering 1990-March 2008.

Results: The seventy-eight included articles revealed that NICU parents have high information needs. The illness trajectory mediates parental information needs and induces a changing pattern in information use and information needs. Most attention is paid to the prenatal and acute phases, while information behaviour in sudden events and later phases receives limited attention.

Conclusions: In-depth studies on information needs and corresponding use of information sources are lacking. More longitudinal studies are needed, taking the illness trajectory into account and investigating the determinants and outcomes of the information and communication needs of NICU parents.

Practice implications: Healthcare professionals should adapt their information provision along the illness trajectory. The development of guidelines of information provision during the illness trajectory at NICU would support all professionals.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Critical Illness*
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Needs Assessment*
  • Parents*
  • Professional-Family Relations*
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States