Parents' reactions to unrestricted parental contact with infants in the intensive care nursery

Med J Aust. 1981 Mar 21;1(6):294-6. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.1981.tb135579.x.


In order to determine parental attitudes and reactions to a policy in which the quality and quantity of parental contact with their preterm or critically-ill infants in the intensive care nursery were determined by the parents, 20 parental pairs were studied regarding their pattern of involvement with their infants, the emotional stress which they experienced, and their responses to the nursery environment during the first fortnight after their infants' birth. This study demonstrated that early and extended parent-infant contact was possible for infants admitted to the intensive care nursery. Both parents chose to maintain a high level of involvement with their infants despite the associated anxiety and anticipatory grief experienced during this period. All felt more reassured with repeated visits, and most believed their infants also felt more loved and secure with the increased contact. The majority would have been opposed to restricted visiting hours and restricted contact with their infants. An open visiting policy and an organized parental-care programme is an important component of neonatal intensive care, since every preterm or critically-ill infant has a family whose psychosocial needs must be recognized and supported.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / psychology*
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Nurseries, Hospital*
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Visitors to Patients / psychology*