Title

Co-occupation interrupted: Factors affecting parenting in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Location

Rock Island

Start Time

17-10-2014 11:40 AM

End Time

17-10-2014 12:10 PM

Session Type

Theoretical Paper

Abstract

Co-occupation interrupted: Factors affecting parenting in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Keywords: co-occupation, neonatal, power

The mother of an infant in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) describes the highly technical and complex environment as “An ‘alien world’ filled with wilderness and without landmarks” (Hall, Brinchmann & Aagaard, 2012, p. 86). Interwoven with feelings of alienation, there can exist parental perception of community through shared experience; unfortunately, that perception is often one of exclusion and distance from the dominant (medical) group, as well as the perception of membership in the marginalized “other” (parent) group. Parenting can feel suspended and commandeered in the NICU, resulting in a power struggle between those wanting to participate in the infant’s care and those wanting to control the infant’s course of treatment. The field of occupational science recognizes the relationship between engagement and health, leading to consideration of concepts such as occupational deprivation and injustice. Within the “alien” world of the NICU, occupational therapists function as both familiar landmarks and facilitators of parent-infant “co-occupation,” defined as “the degree to which the occupations of two or more individuals are interactively shaping each other” (Pierce, 2009, p. 204). In an effort to both contribute to the knowledge base of occupational science and to guide therapy intervention, a 12-point narrative questionnaire was constructed to examine parent-identified factors influencing co-occupation in the NICU. Twenty-eight parents from three different NICUs participated, either by completing the questionnaire or by participating in a focus group discussion led by the questionnaire topics. Eleven themes emerged as barriers to parental participation in the care of their NICU infant. Rooted in postcolonial critical theory and social identity approach, the goal of this project is to build on strengths, resources, and group relationships, and to form parent-researcher partnerships that foster change and challenge the status quo. Neonatal occupational therapists are uniquely poised to help create meaningful connections, to mediate between parent and professional communities, to facilitate “decolonization” in the NICU by emphasizing the importance of co-occupation at every stage of life, and to enable collaborative caregiving between groups throughout an infant’s NICU admission and beyond. “(As) practitioners working in today’s postcolonial climate, we must remain cognizant of the deep-rooted attitudes and relations of power that are built into the fabric of the systems in which we conduct our practice” (Browne et al., 2005, p. 19).

References

Browne, A.J., Smye, V.L., and Varcoe, C. (2005). The relevance of postcolonial theoretical perspective to research in Aboriginal health. Canadian Journal of Nursing Research, 37(4), 16-37.

Esdaile, S.A., & Olson, J.A. (2004). Mothering occupations: Challenge, agency, and participation. Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis Company.

Hall, E.O.C., Brinchmann, B.S., and Aagaard, H. (2012). The challenge of integrating justice and care in neonatal nursing. Nursing Ethics, 19(1), 80-90.

Pierce, D. (2009). Co-occupation: The challenges of defining concepts original to occupational science. Journal of Occupational Science, 16(3), 203-207.

Townsend, E. Reflections on power and justice in enabling occupation. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 70(2), 74-87.

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Oct 17th, 11:40 AM Oct 17th, 12:10 PM

Co-occupation interrupted: Factors affecting parenting in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Rock Island

Co-occupation interrupted: Factors affecting parenting in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Keywords: co-occupation, neonatal, power

The mother of an infant in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) describes the highly technical and complex environment as “An ‘alien world’ filled with wilderness and without landmarks” (Hall, Brinchmann & Aagaard, 2012, p. 86). Interwoven with feelings of alienation, there can exist parental perception of community through shared experience; unfortunately, that perception is often one of exclusion and distance from the dominant (medical) group, as well as the perception of membership in the marginalized “other” (parent) group. Parenting can feel suspended and commandeered in the NICU, resulting in a power struggle between those wanting to participate in the infant’s care and those wanting to control the infant’s course of treatment. The field of occupational science recognizes the relationship between engagement and health, leading to consideration of concepts such as occupational deprivation and injustice. Within the “alien” world of the NICU, occupational therapists function as both familiar landmarks and facilitators of parent-infant “co-occupation,” defined as “the degree to which the occupations of two or more individuals are interactively shaping each other” (Pierce, 2009, p. 204). In an effort to both contribute to the knowledge base of occupational science and to guide therapy intervention, a 12-point narrative questionnaire was constructed to examine parent-identified factors influencing co-occupation in the NICU. Twenty-eight parents from three different NICUs participated, either by completing the questionnaire or by participating in a focus group discussion led by the questionnaire topics. Eleven themes emerged as barriers to parental participation in the care of their NICU infant. Rooted in postcolonial critical theory and social identity approach, the goal of this project is to build on strengths, resources, and group relationships, and to form parent-researcher partnerships that foster change and challenge the status quo. Neonatal occupational therapists are uniquely poised to help create meaningful connections, to mediate between parent and professional communities, to facilitate “decolonization” in the NICU by emphasizing the importance of co-occupation at every stage of life, and to enable collaborative caregiving between groups throughout an infant’s NICU admission and beyond. “(As) practitioners working in today’s postcolonial climate, we must remain cognizant of the deep-rooted attitudes and relations of power that are built into the fabric of the systems in which we conduct our practice” (Browne et al., 2005, p. 19).