Rallying the Troops: How Sharing Knowledge With Grandparents Supports the Family of the Preterm Infant in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

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Abstract

Background:

Research concludes that there is a need for educational programs for grandmothers, as well as networking opportunities; educational programs for other extended family members have long been sought by parents, relatives, and nurses in neonatal intensive care unit.

Purpose:

To describe the effect of having premature infants' extended families participating in family-centered care (FCC) groups in the neonatal intensive care unit. An intervention based on dialogue, including topics as own reactions, general knowledge about the premature infants, parenthood, and how the extended families can support the new families during hospitalization and after discharge.

Methods:

A qualitative content analysis of 2 focus group interviews involving 16 purposefully sampled extended family members, who had participated in 1½ hours of FCC group interventions.

Findings:

The overall theme was: Accepting the individuality of the infant and providing the family with realistic expectations for the future. This theme emerged during the analysis of 4 categories: knowledge sharing, same basis for understanding, access to the immediate family, and competent supporting role. The interrelationship between the categories also emerged, surprisingly, during the analysis.

Implications for Practice:

Extended family members should be recognized as an essential part of the new family's life from the time of the premature infant's admission to neonatal intensive care unit. Family-centered care group interventions should be integrated into ward practice and policy.

Implications for Research:

The study reinforces the need for further research, utilizing both qualitative and quantitative methods, into age and ethnicity aspects of FCC group interventions. There is also a need to compare the new parents' perceived level of stress and support from the FCC group intervention in relation to participating and nonparticipating extended families.

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