An Examination of the Needs of Mothers with Infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

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2006-04-25

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This investigation was designed to examine the needs of a diverse group of mothers with infants in an urban hospital's NICU. Forty-six mothers were asked to rate the importance of having various types of needs met while their infants were hospitalized using the NICU Family Needs Inventory. The five need subscales addressed on the inventory are Support (emotional resources needed by the family), Comfort (the need for personal physical comfort), Information (the need to obtain realistic information about the infant), Proximity (the need to remain near the infant), and Assurance (the need to feel confident about the infant's outcome). Overall, while mean differences were relatively small, the participants viewed needs in the area of Assurance as most important and needs in the area of Support as least important to have fulfilled. Various parent and infant characteristic data were also collected and used as predictor variables in a series of multiple regression analyses to determine the degree of their relationships with the needs that mothers viewed as most important to have fulfilled. There was a positive correlation found between annual household income and mothers' needs in the area of Support. Infant length of stay in the NICU was also found to be inversely correlated to mothers' Information needs. In depth discussions about these results are provided, including linkage to Maslow's theory pertaining to the hierarchy of human needs. The findings from this study can be used by providers when interacting with families, as well as during the design and implementation of parent support programs in the NICU. Further investigation of parents' needs with larger samples, including fathers, is needed.

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