The purpose of this systematic review was to explore and describe the experience of parents with an infant in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU). A literature search covering the period 1998-2008 was conducted. Fourteen articles reporting qualitative studies describing parental experiences and meeting the inclusion criteria were evaluated and themes were identified. Findings revealed that parents with an infant in the NICU experience depression, anxiety, stress, and loss of control, and they vacillate between feelings of inclusion and exclusion related to the provision of health care to their neonate. Nursing interventions that promote positive psychosocial outcomes are needed to decrease parental feelings of stress, anxiety, and loss of control. Interventions need to focus on family-centered and developmentally supportive care.
Keywords: developmentally supportive care; family-centered care; loss of control; newborn intensive care unit.