Communication between parents and nurses within neonatology: methodology development and preliminary results

Dixon, Annie (2004) Communication between parents and nurses within neonatology: methodology development and preliminary results. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Previous research exploring nurse-parent communication within neonatology has provided conflicting information depending on the methodology used. Two reasons for this may be that the majority of research has focused on one participant's perspective of communication and questions asked have tended to seek global responses to cover the whole experience of
communication whilst a baby is resident on the neonatal unit.
This innovative study sought to address these issues by collecting data from nurse-parent dyads and asking questions about one specific interaction. Data was collected in an interview with the parent, at the end of a visit to the neonatal unit, and a questionnaire completed by the nurse. Both consisted of a mixture of closed and open questions, and these were
matched to allow for comparison of responses. A series of pilot stages began to test and refine the methodology.
Data was analysed in three ways. Quantitative analysis of the closed questions, including an examination of congruence of response within dyads was undertaken as well as thematic qualitative analysis of responses to open questions. Up to twenty data sets were available for these analyses from the different stages of piloting. Finally, detailed examination of the
language used within one interview was carried out.
The results suggested that parents and nurses do not always have the same perception of a communication episode in relation to the care of a baby on the unit, and that parents are not as actively involved as would be possible in care and treatment decisions. Exploration of the language used by one parent revealed that, whilst the mother avoided direct criticism of nursing staff, deficits in communication and parental involvement could be identified in her experience.
Recommendations for future research include recognition of the possibilities for more close textual analysis of parents' reports of their experiences of neonatal units, and further work on dyad congruence should be undertaken within specific subgroups of parents from the neonatal population.

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