Improving the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Parent Education in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Adv Neonatal Care. 2020 Feb;20(1):59-67. doi: 10.1097/ANC.0000000000000644.


Background: March of Dimes partners with hospitals across the country to implement NICU Family Support (NFS) Core Curriculum, a program providing education to parents in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) across the country.

Purpose: This NFS project's goal was to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of NICU parent education by establishing consistency, improving quality, and identifying best practices.

Methods/search strategy: A 5 topic curriculum was developed and implemented across NFS program sites. The project studied 4 main outcomes of interest related to efficiency and effectiveness: increase in parenting confidence, parent learning, knowledge change, and satisfaction. Data were collected from speakers and attendees immediately following educational sessions. Analytical approaches included descriptive statistics such as frequency, percentage, and response rate, and inferential approaches such as t test, χ, and analysis of variance.

Findings/results: Findings suggest that the NFS Core Curriculum improved both program efficiency and effectiveness. Sessions fully implemented according to recommended strategies had better outcomes than sessions not fully implemented according to recommended strategies (P < .0001). Across the 3648 attendees at 41 sites, 77% of parents reported learning "a lot" at the session they attended and 85% of attendees reported increased confidence. Attendees also reported positive knowledge change and high satisfaction.

Implications for practice: Parent education best practices identified through this initiative can be utilized for future NFS Core Curriculum topics and potentially generalized to all NICU parent education and family education in other hospital intensive care units.

Implications for research: Content and best practices identified through this project will require regular review to ensure medical accuracy and appropriateness of best practices as the physical design of NICUs evolves.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Curriculum*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Care / methods*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal / methods*
  • Male
  • Neonatal Nursing / education*
  • Parents / education*
  • United States