An Empowerment Program to Reduce Parental Distress and Neonatal Length of Stay
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Over 400,000 preterm infants are born each year and taken to the neonatal intensive care unit which presents a caustic and intimidating environment for parents who struggle to adapt to the parenting role in a roller coaster ride of unknowns. The purpose of this DNP project was to provide an evidence-based standardized educational-behavioral intervention that empowered parents of the neonatal intensive care resulting in the primary outcome of decreased parental distress and the secondary outcome of shortened neonatal length of stay (LOS). The study was a quasi-experimental pre/posttest design. The project intervention was administered to parents of all infants less than 32 weeks’ gestation admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit in Illinois. There was one cohort for both pre- and post-measures of the Parent Stressor Scale: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (PSS: NICU). The total number of subjects was 38 parents and 25 infants. Parents of infants who met the inclusion criteria received the Creating Opportunities for Parent Empowerment (COPE) program specifically designed for use in the neonatal intensive care unit. The program was a multi-phase educational-behavioral intervention in an audiovisual format that provided detailed information on preterm infant behavioral cues and promoted parent-infant interaction in neonatal intensive care. Results of the project include statistically significant pre- and post-measure PSS: NICU in 4 out of 5 categories and a trend toward a shorter LOS. With the rising cost of healthcare and potential lack of reimbursement for care complications, decreasing the LOS is an essential part of the quality of care continuum. The COPE program has the potential to save the United States up to 2 billion dollars per year.
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