Objective To evaluate a computer-based, educational intervention to promote parent–infant interaction following discharge from neonatal intensive care.
Methods The “SMILES” programme highlighted features of positive parent–infant interaction using pictures, interactive questions and video clips. It also aimed to address barriers to interaction identified in previous research, such as maternal uncertainty and low expectations of premature infants. Programme development was guided by social-learning theory and SMILES was evaluated in two phases. In phase 1, SMILES CD ROMS were sent to 10 mothers who had previously participated in a study exploring their experiences of early interactions with premature infants. Semistructured, telephone interviews were conducted to assess participants’ feelings about the programme. Phase 2 was a controlled, crossover study in two neonatal intensive care units. Mothers in the intervention unit were given SMILES at discharge. Mothers in the control unit received standard discharge information. All participants completed the interacting with my premature infant questionnaire (IPIQ), which comprised subscales assessing maternal confidence and perceived infant barriers to interaction.
Results In phase 1, content analysis showed all mothers found SMILES useful, easy to use and understandable. Most identified positive features. In phase 2, mothers in the intervention were more confident about interacting with infants compared with controls (mean 28.4 vs 17.14, Cohen’s d = 2.05) and perceived their infant as being more capable during social interactions (27.0 vs 22.14, Cohen’s d = 0.74).
Conclusions The SMILES programme evaluated very positively and reduced barriers to interaction such as maternal uncertainty and negative perceptions of infant capabilities.