Mindfulness-Based Neurodevelopmental Care: Impact on NICU Parent Stress and Infant Length of Stay; A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study

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Abstract

Background/Purpose:

Experiences of premature birth and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) hospitalizations result in stress and family separation that have far-reaching implications. Prior studies of neonatal neurodevelopmental care show improved infant outcomes. Previous studies of mindfulness show improved stress and health outcomes in varied disease processes. No neonatal studies of parent training in mindfulness-based neurodevelopmental care exist. This study examines the impact of parent education and participation in mindfulness-based neurodevelopmental care on parent outcomes (stress, bonding, and satisfaction) and infant length of stay (LOS).

Methods:

This randomized controlled trial pilot study utilized a convenience sample of 55 parent–infant dyads. Parametric and nonparametric statistical tests examined differences in and between study groups in demographics and dependent study variables (stress, bonding, satisfaction, and LOS).

Results:

No statistically significant differences in parent outcomes were seen between groups. However, experimental group (EG) parents showed a significant reduction in stress scores from enrollment to discharge (P = .012) and EG infants had significantly shorter LOS (P = .026-.047) than control.

Implications for Practice and Research:

While further research to confirm study results is warranted, changes in current NICU practices to incorporate additional parent education in mindfulness-based neurodevelopmental care may help alleviate parent stress and decrease LOS that impact financial, physical, and psychosocial outcomes for patients, families, healthcare systems, and society.

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