Affects and cognitions of mothers and fathers of preterm infants

Matern Child Nurs J. 1990 Fall;19(3):211-20.


This descriptive study examined the feelings and thoughts of mothers and fathers of preterm infants. Responses were solicited while the infant was in a special care nursery as well as in the home. Mothers and fathers responses between the hospital and the home setting were compared as were maternal and paternal responses. General systems theory was the conceptual orientation of this study. This framework provided a perspective on the generation and analysis of affective and cognitive responses of parents following the birth of a premature infant. An open-ended, semi-structured interview was conducted in the special care nursery when the infant was 5 days old. A second interview was conducted when the preterm infant had been home for 5 days. The 18 mother-father dyads wer interviewed twice as dyadic units. The dyads were married and shared the same domicile, spoke and understood English, and resided within eighty miles of the special care nursery. There were 11 males and 7 females in the infant sample, with a mean gestational age of 34.9 weeks and a mean birthweight of 2281.7. The interviews were content analyzed and responses of the parent dyads categorized into meaningful sets within an a priori construct of affects and cognitions. A z-statistic was used to examine differences in the proportion of responses. The affective category was comprised of both positive and negative responses. Positive responses were amazement, confidence, love, and well-being. Negative responses were anxiety, fear, helplessness, and sadness. The cognitive category was comprised of three kinds of responses: protection, provision, and attachment.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Affect*
  • Cognition*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Patient Discharge
  • Systems Theory