Assuring the integrity of the family: being the father of a very low birth weight infant

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Robin Bartlett, Associate Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Aim. The purpose of this study was to explore the paternal role of fathers of very low birth weight infants during their first year of life.

Background. Following birth, very low birth weight infants often require extended hospitalisation and long-term care. The birth experience and the infant’s hospitalisation often overwhelm parents and may hinder the development of their parental roles. The father is known to be an important supporting figure for the mother, but most studies in Taiwan have focussed on mothers.

Design. A qualitative design using a grounded theory approach was employed in this study.

Methods. In-depth interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of fathers during home visits. Each father was interviewed twice at one to three months and seven to nine months after his very low birth weight infant’s discharge from the hospital. Data were analysed using constant comparison and repeated verification.

Results. Twelve fathers were included in the study. During the first year of life of their very low birth weight infants, the fathers experienced ‘protecting the wife–baby dyad’, ‘concentrating on the child’s health and growth’, and ‘possessing a complete family’. Subcategories within each major category also emerged.

Conclusion. In this study, Taiwanese fathers of very low birth weight infants learned different and broader dimensions of the paternal role and continually made adjustments to assure their family’s integrity.

Relevance to clinical practice. These findings can help nurses understand paternal perceptions and behaviours related to having a very low birth weight infant and in turn help fathers adjust to their role.

Additional Information

Journal of Clinical Nursing, 18 (4), 512-519
Language: English
Date: 2009
children, fathers, low birth weight, midwifery, nurses, nursing

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