Family support and family-centered care in the neonatal intensive care unit: origins, advances, impact

Semin Perinatol. 2011 Feb;35(1):20-8. doi: 10.1053/j.semperi.2010.10.004.


Family-centered care (FCC) has been increasingly emphasized as an important and necessary element of neonatal intensive care. FCC is conceptualized as a philosophy with a set of guiding principles, as well as a cohort of programs, services, and practices that many hospitals have embraced. Several factors drive the pressing need for family-centered care and support of families of infants in NICUs, including the increase in the number of infants in NICUs; growth in diversity of the population and their concurrent needs; identification of parental and familial stress and lack of parenting confidence; and gaps in support for families, as identified by parents and NICU staff. We explore the origins of and advances in FCC in the NICU and identify various delivery methods and aspects of FCC and family support in the NICU. We examine the research and available evidence supporting FCC in the NICU and offer recommendations for increased dissemination and for future study.

MeSH terms

  • Family*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal / trends*
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal / methods*
  • Medical Staff
  • Nursing Staff
  • Parents / psychology
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Self-Help Groups
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological