Exploring Parent Experiences With Early Palliative Care Practices in the NICU


Exploring Parent Experiences With Early Palliative Care Practices in the NICU


Quinn M; Gephart S; Crist J


Advances in Neonatal Care




Palliative Care; NICU; parent experiences


BACKGROUND: The anxiety and uncertain outcome of an admission of a seriously ill infant to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can cause great stress for parents and contribute to poor mental health outcomes. Early implementation of family-centered palliative care (PC) may provide support for NICU parents. Key concepts of early PC in the NICU include shared decision-making, care planning, and support for coping with distress. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to explore parent experiences during their child's NICU admission with the early PC practices of shared decision-making, care planning, and coping with distress. METHODS: Qualitative descriptive methodology was used. Strategies of reflexive journaling, peer debriefing, and data audits were used to enhance trustworthiness. Parents (N = 16) were interviewed, and data were analyzed by conventional content analysis. Targeted recruitment of fathers occurred to ensure they comprised 25% of sample. RESULTS: Parents' descriptions of decision-making were contextualized in gathering information to make a decision, the emotional impact of the decision, and influences on their decision-making. In experiences with care planning, parents described learning to advocate, having a spectator versus participant role, and experiencing care planning as communication. Key themes expressed regarding parental coping were exposure to trauma, survival mode, and a changing support network. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE AND RESEARCH: These findings highlight key areas for practice improvement: providing more support and collaboration in decision-making, true engagement of parents in care planning, and encouraging peer support and interaction in the NICU and in online communities.


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Citation List Month

April List 2024



Quinn M; Gephart S; Crist J, “Exploring Parent Experiences With Early Palliative Care Practices in the NICU,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed July 23, 2024, https://pedpalascnetlibrary.omeka.net/items/show/19556.