• nurse/parent relationships;
  • family-centered care;
  • negotiated partnership;
  • interpretive description


Objective: To explore parents' experience and satisfaction with care in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

Design: Qualitative design using an interpretive description method.

Setting: A tertiary-level care 69-bed NICU.

Participants: Ten parents (nine mothers and one father) were interviewed.

Method: Parents were interviewed in person or via telephone, either following or close to discharge. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and then analyzed using an evolving coding guide.

Results: All parents indicated that the relationship they developed with the bedside nurse was the most significant factor affecting their satisfaction with their NICU experience. All parents described nursing actions of perceptive engagement, cautious guidance, and subtle presence, which facilitated the development of this relationship. Further analysis of the data revealed that parents portrayed nurses in ideal nurse/parent interactions as fulfilling the roles of teacher, guardian, and facilitator.

Conclusion: Developing a collaborative and effective nurse/parent relationship is the most significant factor affecting parents' satisfaction with their NICU experience. Providing nursing care in a manner that optimizes consistency and continuity of care facilitates the ability of both parties to develop this relationship.