Sat | Oct 20, 2018

Parents of neonates getting information, but need more support - study

Published:Friday | June 1, 2018 | 4:06 PMRomario Scott

A study into the treatment of families by staff whose children are in neonatal intensive care units at hospitals has found that, on a consistent basis, a majority of parents indicated that they were very satisfied with how they were treated.

Newborns in need of intensive medical attention are often admitted into a special area of the hospital called the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

The study, which formed apart of the JA Birth Cohort Study 2011, found that 48 per cent of the 427 families said that they were very satisfied with the information they received about the illness afflicting their newborn, study director Dr Charlene Coore Desai revealed today.

Further, a majority of the participants indicated that the information provided to them on the illness was easy to understand and was given in a timely manner. 

Almost all said that the wanted information on the child's illness. 

As it related to treatment, 43 per cent of parents reported being very satisfied with the information they received.

This includes information on medication and laboratory tests.

Seven-seven per cent of the participating families relayed that this information was very easy to understand. 

But, very few, only 10 per cent, said that they received the information relating to treatment in a timely fashion. 

On the issue of parenting support, only 19 per cent of parents reported that they were told about the services within the hospitals that could help them better understand or cope with their newborn babies being admitted.

All the parents who received the information said it was helpful but nearly half of those who did not receive the information wanted the information, the study said.

In terms of information on services available outside of the hospital, only 12 per cent reported getting information from staff on how to better understand or cope with the situation. 

"I think parents do want information and they did get some about their child's illness, treatment, and daily care but this was not necessarily given in a timely fashion especially as it relates to treatment and this could probably be related to the high-pressure situation that is taking place at the hospital [and] about the decisions that have to be taken with regard to treatment,”Coore Desai said. 

"They didn't even speak about being referred to a social worker, which many hospitals do have on staff... or there is nobody [to point to] a directory of organisations available outside the hospital that maybe they could just say, 'you know, we know that our health staff are overburdened... here is where you can go to'," Coore Desai contended further.

She suggested that additional training for NICU staff be conducted to improve outcomes.

The study director also suggested that there may need to be a review of policy and an engagement with the National Parenting Commission to assist in improving the current situation.

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