Title

The NICU: A New Frontier for the Study of Occupation?

Start Time

7-10-2006 1:00 PM

End Time

7-10-2006 2:40 PM

Abstract

When a baby is born pre-term or with serious medical complications, the family enters the bewildering, intimidating Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) world of high-tech equipment, unfamiliar surroundings and uncertainty about the health of their newborn infant (Doering et al, 1999; Pebbles-Kleiger, 2000; Vickers, 2004). This is neither the environment nor the parenting experience they had envisioned. While much has been written in the occupational science literature about adolescents, adults and the elderly in such varied settings as the home, school, and assisted living facilities, the authors propose that the NICU provides an especially important opportunity for the study of occupation and the interplay between occupation and environment. Concepts of occupation, co-occupation, and the impact of environment need to be reconsidered in the presence of pre-term birth, medical fragility and the complicated role sharing that exists between mother and nurse. As an initial effort to examine occupation within the NICU, we conducted a descriptive study to investigate nurse perceptions of maternal presence, roles and caregiving occupations in the NICU at the University of New Mexico Hospital. 35 registered nurses assigned within a 2 day period were recruited as a convenience sample. Nurse interviews were conducted to obtain demographic and quantitative date using the Mother Caregiver Questionnaire. Qualitative data was obtained from open ended questions. Paired t-tests were used to compare nurse perceptions of 1) the importance of mothers’ caregiving activities in the NICU 2) how mothers would rank the importance of their caregiving activities in the NICU and 3) how mothers would rank their enjoyment during caregiving activities in the NICU. Preliminary findings showed significant differences in nurses’ rankings of the importance of caregiving activities and their perceptions of how mothers valued them as important or enjoyable. Caregiving activities rated as important, were perceived by nurses as being less enjoyable and/or less important to mothers. Activities perceived by nurses as enjoyable to mothers, were ranked by nurses as less important. If, through engagement in occupation, meaningful connections to others are experienced, (Hasselkus, 2002), how are occupations and meaningful connections impacted by how others perceive the importance of activities we value?

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Oct 7th, 1:00 PM Oct 7th, 2:40 PM

The NICU: A New Frontier for the Study of Occupation?

When a baby is born pre-term or with serious medical complications, the family enters the bewildering, intimidating Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) world of high-tech equipment, unfamiliar surroundings and uncertainty about the health of their newborn infant (Doering et al, 1999; Pebbles-Kleiger, 2000; Vickers, 2004). This is neither the environment nor the parenting experience they had envisioned. While much has been written in the occupational science literature about adolescents, adults and the elderly in such varied settings as the home, school, and assisted living facilities, the authors propose that the NICU provides an especially important opportunity for the study of occupation and the interplay between occupation and environment. Concepts of occupation, co-occupation, and the impact of environment need to be reconsidered in the presence of pre-term birth, medical fragility and the complicated role sharing that exists between mother and nurse. As an initial effort to examine occupation within the NICU, we conducted a descriptive study to investigate nurse perceptions of maternal presence, roles and caregiving occupations in the NICU at the University of New Mexico Hospital. 35 registered nurses assigned within a 2 day period were recruited as a convenience sample. Nurse interviews were conducted to obtain demographic and quantitative date using the Mother Caregiver Questionnaire. Qualitative data was obtained from open ended questions. Paired t-tests were used to compare nurse perceptions of 1) the importance of mothers’ caregiving activities in the NICU 2) how mothers would rank the importance of their caregiving activities in the NICU and 3) how mothers would rank their enjoyment during caregiving activities in the NICU. Preliminary findings showed significant differences in nurses’ rankings of the importance of caregiving activities and their perceptions of how mothers valued them as important or enjoyable. Caregiving activities rated as important, were perceived by nurses as being less enjoyable and/or less important to mothers. Activities perceived by nurses as enjoyable to mothers, were ranked by nurses as less important. If, through engagement in occupation, meaningful connections to others are experienced, (Hasselkus, 2002), how are occupations and meaningful connections impacted by how others perceive the importance of activities we value?