Exploration of parent perspectives and adaptation to shaken baby syndrome: An occupational therapy approach
Shaken Baby Syndrome is a violent and deadly form of child abuse. However, it is a preventable tragedy. Infant crying is the major precipitating factor that causes an adult to shake an infant or small child. The purpose of this research was to examine from an occupational therapy perspective current prevention strategies of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) and to explore adaptive strategies used by parents in response to inconsolable infant crying.
The first study provided a program evaluation of a parent education class. The parent education class was developed to address infant crying and the dangers of SBS and provided primary prevention for parents and caregivers with infants in a neonatal intensive care unit. The study established that the participants did perceive the class to be an effective method of addressing infant crying and conveying the dangers of SBS.
The second study included a qualitative inquiry utilizing a phenomenological tradition to explore the parent's perspective on the lived experience of infant crying. In-depth interviews with six parents who had directly experienced the phenomenon of infant crying were conducted. The themes of: longing for answers, heightened emotions and coping strategies emerged from the data. A discussion of these themes along with clinical implications for practice and future research are presented.
Caregiving with an infant is considered a co-occupation, thus the infant and parent's response to infant crying is viewed as a co-occupation. The parent's thoughts, feelings, behaviors and actions in response to infant crying were explored in the third study by using a qualitative research approach of participant observations, a questionnaire and field notes. The results of the analysis identified three major themes: the immediate response to crying, routines, and utilizing movement as a coping strategy.
Lastly, Chapter 6 offers a summary of the key findings from the three research studies. This section of the dissertation provides a synthesis of the studies, suggestions for future research, and implications for occupational therapy practice in SBS prevention programs.