Parental Experiences of Neonatal Care: A Nationwide Study on Determinants of Excellence

Neonatology. 2023 Oct 16:1-10. doi: 10.1159/000533900. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: Infant- and family-centered developmental care can reduce adverse outcomes in both infants and parents. Parents' experiences of the care and staff treatment remain to be evaluated.

Methods: Parents of infants admitted to neonatal units in Sweden from July 2020 to May 2022 responded to a questionnaire with standardized questions about in-hospital care. Exposures were hospital, gestational age, length of hospital stay, unit level, and bed density. The proportions of parents rating aspects of neonatal care as excellent, defined as five on a Likert scale, and the determinants of excellence were described. The results were benchmarked with ratings in adult somatic care.

Results: A total of 4,475/13,108 (34%) parents responded. The ratings of excellent care varied by question from 65% to 90%. The largest variation in excellence between neonatal units (range 43-80%) was found for "participation and involvement." The proportion of excellence was significantly lower among parents of extremely preterm infants. Confidence in the staff was lower in parents of extremely preterm infants than in parents of term infants (56% vs. 83%). Longer hospital stays affected the experience of neonatal care adversely, whereas level of care and bed density were overall unrelated to the parental experience. Parents in neonatal care rated the care as excellent to a higher extent than patients cared for in adult medicine.

Conclusion: A majority of parents rated neonatal care in Sweden as excellent. The less frequent ratings of excellence among parents of extremely preterm infants indicate that more could be done to optimize parental involvement and support.

Keywords: Infant- and family-centered care; Neonatal unit; Newborn infant; Parent-reported experience measures; Preterm birth.