Objective The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact for parents of a hospital-based intervention to support in the difficult experience of having a newborn baby hospitalized in a NICU by facilitating the expression, sharing and attention to the problems encountered.
Methods Weekly meetings in a “welcome”, sharing and discussion group. The meeting lasts for about one hour with no pre-established themes. The psychologist, the attending physician and the head nurse participate. The parents are provided with written information concerning the aims, place and duration of the meeting. A questionnaire has been drawn up with open questions (the most interesting aspect, the least satisfying aspect and whether or not it has met expectations) and closed questions (degree of satisfaction) for the assessment of the initiative.
Results Data resulting from the questionnaires filled out by 109 parents are reported. 91% assessed the initiative as “very good/good”, 96.1% considered that the issues discussed by the group met their specific needs. The answers to the open questions showed the importance both of information/communication with the NICU staff and of the time/space devoted to the emotional difficulties encountered.
Conclusion The containment of the emotions and the development of social relation among the parents have a therapeutic function of emotion-sharing which can be verbalized, communicated and welcomed. The meetings allow for the monitoring of the quality of the care received and offer important cues for change, rendering the parents active partners in the care of their own child.