NICU Single Family Rooms Improves Parent Outcomes

Findings from Family Integrated Care for Preterm Infants are described by the author and PTBi researcher, Linda Franck. Additional authors include Chandra Waddington and Karel O'Brien.

What is important or unique about this study?

Many parents develop stress-related symptoms and depression when their preterm infant is hospitalized in the NICU, after birth. We reviewed the evidence of parent well-being with preterm infants hospitalized in single-family rooms or in open bay NICUs. This is the first systematic review and meta-analysis of research on the impact of single-family rooms in NICUS on the well-being of parents of preterm infants.

What is already known about this topic, and how do your findings add to or change this existing knowledge?

Single-family rooms have known benefits for preterm infants, such as lower incidences of sepsis and increased exclusive breastfeeding rates upon discharge. Our systematic review and meta-analysis suggest that parents of preterm infants admitted to single-family room NICUs experienced better outcomes compared with parents of infants admitted to open bay NICUs. We found lower NICU-related stress levels upon discharge, and more parental presence, involvement, skin-to-skin care, empowerment, degree of family-centered care, and satisfaction levels in parents of preterm infants admitted to single-family room NICUs. No differences were found in anxiety, parent-infant bonding, or depression upon or after discharge. No studies examined the association of different care environments with post-traumatic stress.

How does your research impact current clinical practice? How does your research impact patients?

Single-family rooms seem to facilitate parental presence, involvement, skin-to-skin care, and reduce NICU-related parental stress.

What should researchers/providers/patients/public health workers/etc. do as a result of these findings?

Further research is required to understand the specific factors during hospitalization of preterm infants that improve the outcomes for parents. This is especially important when hospital budgets are constrained, and priorities need to be established. However, where possible promising this vulnerable patient population and their families should be cared for in single-family rooms.