Determining the needs of fathers of premature neonates

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Background: In order to practice true family-centered care in the NICU setting, a nurse needs to understand the perceptions and concerns of both parents of the neonate. Although research is emerging on fathers’ perceptions and experiences, researchers have not examined fathers’ needs with respect to sociodemographic factors and gestational age of neonates. The purpose of this study was to determine the needs of NICU fathers and if these needs differed based on sociodemographic factors and gestational age of neonates. Method: A quantitative, comparative, descriptive design was used to determine the needs of NICU fathers and to determine the needs of fathers with respect to differences in gestational age and type of hospital where the neonate was born. Additional analysis was conducted to determine if the needs differed based on education, income, gestational age, and whether the father preferred speaking English or Spanish and if these sociodemographic factors could predict needs. To determine these sociodemographic factors and needs, a demographic questionnaire and the NICU Family Needs Inventory was administered to 103 fathers who currently had a neonate one of six Level III NICUs in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The final sample size was 99 fathers. Results: Data were analyzed using independent sample t-test, one-way ANOVA, and multiple linear regression. The results showed that fathers reported a broad span of needs. In the written comments, fathers emphasized the importance of providing kangaroo care and receiving consistent information. Vulnerable populations ranked needs higher in assurance, proximity, and information as well as in most of the needs statements. Conclusions: These results emphasize the importance of the nurses’ role in assessing the needs of NICU fathers to practice true family-centered care. Further research on fathers and their needs is needed to support these findings.

NICU fathers, parental needs, NICU family needs inventory, premature neonates, prematurity