Web-Based Intervention to Teach Developmentally Supportive Care to Parents of Preterm Infants: Feasibility and Acceptability Study

JMIR Res Protoc. 2017 Nov 30;6(11):e236. doi: 10.2196/resprot.8289.


Background: Preterm birth affects 8% to 11% of the population and conveys a significant risk of developmental delays. Intervention programs that support child development have been shown to have a positive impact on early motor and cognitive development and on parental well-being. However, these programs are often difficult to implement in a real-life setting due to lack of resources. Hence, our multidisciplinary team developed Mieux Agir au Quotidien (MAQ) to teach developmentally supportive care to parents of preterm infants with the goal of improving child development and parental outcomes. Our intervention included 3 in-person workshops that occurred prior to hospital discharge and a Web-based platform with written and videotaped materials that addressed 5 main themes: (1) infant behavioral cues, (2) flexion positioning; (3) oral feeding support, (4) parent-infant interactions, and (5) anticipation of developmental milestones.

Objective: This study aimed to test the feasibility and acceptability of the intervention by parents of preterm infants and assess clinical benefits on child neurodevelopment and parental outcomes during the first year of life.

Methods: A total of 107 infants born at <30 weeks and admitted to Sainte-Justine Hospital neonatal intensive care unit and their parents were enrolled in a nonrandomized controlled before-and-after interventional study (intervention n=55, comparison n=52). Acceptability of the program was assessed with a user satisfaction questionnaire. When the infants were at 4 months' corrected age, all parents completed questionnaires on infant temperament, parenting stress, sense of competence, and parenting satisfaction. At 12 months' corrected age, neurodevelopmental testing was performed on infants using the Alberta Infant Motor Scale and the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, Third Edition. Comparisons between the 2 groups were done using independent t tests, Wilcoxon rank-sum tests, and Fisher exact tests.

Results: The majority of parents (43/45) were satisfied with the intervention program and all would recommend MAQ to others. MAQ met their need for evidence-based information that proved useful to support their child development. No difference in parental or child neurodevelopmental outcomes was detected in this pilot study for most outcomes except for higher median scores for parental coercive behaviors in the intervention group, although proportions scoring in the coercive range did not differ.

Conclusions: Acceptability of the program was high among parents thus supporting the relevance of such intervention. A larger study using a randomized controlled trial design is needed to better document impact on parent and children and investigate how Web-based technologies can efficiently complement individualized intervention to alleviate the burden on health care resources.

Keywords: Internet; Web-based intervention; developmental intervention; early intervention; neurodevelopmental outcomes; preterm infants.