Integrative Review of Technology to Support Communication With Parents of Infants in the NICU

J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2017 May-Jun;46(3):357-366. doi: 10.1016/j.jogn.2016.11.019. Epub 2017 Mar 3.


Objective: To synthesize findings from the published literature on the use of technology in the NICU to improve communications and interactions among health care providers, parents, and infants.

Data sources: Electronic databases including Ovid MEDLINE, CINAHL, Web of Science, and Google Scholar were searched for related research published through May 2016. The reference lists of all studies were reviewed, and a hand search of key journals was also conducted to locate eligible studies.

Study selection: Eleven studies (five quantitative, two qualitative, and four mixed methods) were identified that met the inclusion criteria. Only studies published in English were included.

Data extraction: Whittemore and Knafl's methodology for conducting integrative reviews was used to guide data extraction, analysis, and synthesis. Data were extracted and organized according to the following headings: author, year, and location; study purpose and design; sample size and demographics; technology used; study findings; and limitations.

Data synthesis: Various technologies were used, including videoconferencing, videophone, and commercially available modalities such as Skype, FaceTime, AngelEye, and NICView Webcams. In the 11 studies, three main outcomes were evaluated: parents' perception of technology use, health care providers' perceptions of technology use, and objective outcomes, such as parental anxiety or stress or infant length of stay. Overall, parents and health care providers perceived the varied interventions quite favorably, although a few significant differences were found for the objective measures.

Conclusion: Several interventions have been tested to improve communications and promote interactions among NICU health care team members, parents, and infants. Although initial findings are positive, research in this area is quite limited, and the reviewed studies had several limitations. There is a significant need for further rigorous research to be conducted with diverse samples.

Keywords: NICU; communication; family-centered care; integrative review; neonatal intensive care unit; parent perceptions; technology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units / organization & administration*
  • Male
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Professional-Family Relations*
  • Social Support
  • United States