There are a lot of qualitative studies that make huge generalizations from the very tiniest of samples; on the other hand, some studies of values and wishes of parents and patients can be valuable, and can be well studied only with qualitative techniques. One example of the latter is a new study from 3 centers in France. (Guillaume S, Michelin N, Amrani E, Benier B, Durrmeyer X, Lescure S, Bony C, Danan C, Baud O, Jarreau P-H et al: Parents’ expectations of staff in the early bonding process with their premature babies in the intensive care setting: A qualitative multicenter study with 60 parents. BMC Pediatrics 2013, 13(1):18.) They interviewed 30 mothers and 30 fathers with very preterm babies in NICU. It is worth a read (freely available on BMC Pediatrics) and I will quote in its entirety the conclusion section of the abstract:
‘At birth and during the first weeks in the NICU, the creation of a bond between mothers and fathers and their premature baby is rooted in their relationship with the caregivers. Nurses’ caring attitude and regular communication adapted to specific needs are perceived by parents as necessary preconditions for parents’ interaction and development of a bond with their baby. These results might allow NICU staff to provide better support to parents and facilitate the emergence of a feeling of parenthood.’
Another study points out the importance of nurses attitudes to what happens in the NICU and to parental experiences. A US study, from an urban center, questioned nurses and mothers about things like whether parents should participate in care of the baby and whether they should be encouraged to be present and to do kangaroo care. (Hendricks-Munoz KD, Li Y, Kim YS, Prendergast CC, Mayers R, Louie M: Maternal and neonatal nurse perceived value of kangaroo mother care and maternal care partnership in the neonatal intensive care unit. American journal of perinatology 2013(EFirst).) I was very surprised by the results. Only 21% of nurses strongly agreed that parents should be encouraged to be present in the NICU, and only 67% of mothers! Knowledge and attitudes towards Kangaroo Care were also poor, and differed greatly between nurses and mothers. The authors identified many barriers to creation of maternal care partnerships that need to be overcome.