Background Nurses play a pivotal role in parental support and education in the NICU, but it is not known if parental satisfaction and expectations about nursing care differ between racial groups.
Methods A prospective cohort was constructed of infants born at a gestational age ≤35 weeks, who presented within 2 months after NICU discharge to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia primary care network between 7/1/09 and 12/31/11 (N = 249, 52% white, 42% Black). We administered a survey on trust, communication, NICU course, and expectations from the medical system. Qualitative responses about NICU nursing care were imported into ATLAS.ti to highlight key themes and relationships between race and satisfaction with NICU nursing care.
Results During the open-ended survey questioning, 120 (48%) parents commented on nursing. 58% of the comments were positive, with black parents more negative (58%) than white parents (33%). Parents of different races sought different behaviours from nurses. Black parents were dissatisfied with how nurses supported them, wanting compassionate communication and nurses that treated them “like family”. White parents were dissatisfied with inconsistent nursing care and lack of respect for parental involvement, wanting education about their child’s short and long-term needs. Both groups described a chaotic NICU environment with high nursing turnover, making it difficult to build trust and relationships.
Conclusions Racial differences in satisfaction and expectations were found with NICU nursing care. Practices to account for these differing needs will allow nurses to better support families through a premature birth and engage parents in their child’s health care.