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The effectiveness of early intervention on paternal stress for fathers of premature infants admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit

Authors


Correspondence to T.-Y. Lee: e-mail: tzuying@ntunhs.edu.tw

Abstract

Aim

This article is a report of a study to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention on fathering ability, perceived nurse's support and paternal stress after a preterm infant's admission to a neonatal intensive care unit.

Background

The birth of a premature infant who is admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit is a stressful experience. Due to the maternal postpartum practice in Taiwan, the father is the main visitor of the infant during the first few weeks, but interventions have rarely focused on the father.

Design

A historical comparison study.

Methods

Between August 2009–July 2010, 35 fathers in the comparison group received routine care; 34 fathers in the intervention group received a booklet designed for the fathers during their visits to the neonatal intensive care unit and nurses’ guidance based on the contents of the booklet. Fathering ability, perceived nurse's support and paternal stress were measured.

Findings

The intervention group had a significantly higher fathering ability and perceived nurse support than the comparison group. In the intervention group, the increased fathering ability reduced paternal stress. After adjusting for severity of illness, an significant moderating effect of perceived nurse support on the relationship between fathering ability and paternal stress was found, accounting for 59·5% of variance.

Conclusion

Designing a supportive intervention which provides informational, emotional, instrumental, and esteem support for the father can effectively empower his fathering ability and reduce his stress. The intervention should be initiated from the early admission of the premature infant to the neonatal intensive care unit.

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