Fathers: The Lost Ring in the Chain of Family-Centered Care

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Abstract

Background:

The basic principles of family-centered care in neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) include the unlimited presence of parents and their participation in infant's care. Nurses play a central role in encouraging parental attachment with their infant.

Purpose:

This study was carried out with the aim of understanding NICU nurses' lived experiences of family participation in family-centered care.

Methods:

This interpretative phenomenological study was conducted on the basis of Heideggerian philosophy. The data were collected using semistructured interviews and field notes and analyzed through the 7-stage Diekelmann, Allen, and Tanner approach.

Findings:

Two overarching themes emerged including “mother's centrality in the care chain” and “fathers; the lost ring in the care chain” each of which consisted of 3 and 4 subthemes, respectively. Interviews indicated that in Iran's NICUs, conditions for the presence of parents were appropriate for the mothers and they were encouraged to engage in family-centered care but the fathers' participation was limited due to traditional attitudes, cultural-religious background, and difficulties relating to the hospitals' organizational rules.

Implications for Practice:

Fathers' participation in family-centered care seems to be enhanced through providing facilities, altering the organizational rules, attempting to modify traditional social attitudes, and educating parents and nurses.

Implications for Research:

Future research should explore the experience of mothers and fathers of infants in NICU in Iran to achieve a comprehensive understanding of their role in family-centered care.

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