Parental interaction with infants treated with medical technology

Scand J Caring Sci. 2013 Sep;27(3):597-607. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-6712.2012.01061.x. Epub 2012 Aug 2.


Background: It is well established that parents must interact with their new-born babies to facilitate attachment. However, very little is known about how parents perceive different types of medical technology products commonly used in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) as barriers to their wish to interact with their infants.

Aim: This study aims to examine to what extent the different medical technology products commonly used in the NICU are perceived by parents to be obstacles in their wish to interact with their babies.

Design and methods: In 2010, a cross-sectional survey, using a questionnaire specifically developed for this study, was conducted among the parents of children who were discharged from any of the five NICUs of the Västra Götaland region in Sweden. A consecutive sample of 248 parents participated, and multiple regressions and t-tests were used to analyse the data.

Results: The parents generally perceived the various medical technology products differently, according to the perceived level of obstruction. The variables of gender, age, educational level, origin, gestational age, previous experience of being a parent, and the offer of accommodation at the NICU were significantly associated with the perceived level of obstruction in the parents' wish to interact with their baby while the baby was being treated with different medical technology products.

Conclusion: The primary implication for practice is that to facilitate attachment, nurses should involve different categories of parents in different ways in the care of their children, depending on the equipment being used in the treatment of the children. Thus, the individual care plan should explicitly include the details of the specific medical equipment, because although its use is medically beneficial for the child, it is associated with potential liabilities regarding parent-child interaction and, consequently, regarding parent-child attachment.

Keywords: incubator; infusion; monitoring; neonatal intensive care unit; nursing; parental interaction with infants; phototherapy; respiratory support.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Middle Aged
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult