Transition From Hospital to Home in Parents of Preterm Infants: A Literature Review

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Abstract

Transition from hospital to home is a complex and multidimensional phenomenon for parents of prematurely born infants (<37 weeks of gestation). The absence of a clear conceptualization of this particular transition coupled with the challenges parents have when they return home and higher costs of healthcare service usage postdischarge dictates the need for a better understanding of this phenomenon. A literature review was undertaken using Whittemore and Knafl's theoretical framework for integrative review as a guide. A systematic search of the electronic databases (PsycINFO, PubMed, Medline, Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature, EMBASE, Cochrane Database for Systematic Reviews, and EBSCO) was performed. Fifty selected reports of research conducted on parents of preterm infants during 1980–2014 are included in this article. Five themes emerged from the review—disruption of parental role development, distorted development of parent-infant relationships, psychological consequences of a preterm birth and infant hospitalization, learning caregiving and parenting, and need for social and professional supports—which appear to reflect parental challenges during transition from hospital to home after discharge. Several inconsistencies in results of the studies dictate the need for further research in this vulnerable population; the better conceptualization and measurement of transitional challenges are warranted.

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