OBJECTIVES:

To demonstrate feasibility and estimate the effect of an intervention to increase parental involvement in infant pain management in the NICU on parents' stress and postdischarge parenting competence and confidence.

METHODS:

The study involved a randomized controlled trial. Parents recruited from 4 NICUs were randomly assigned by site to receive (1) a pain information booklet and instruction on infant comforting techniques (n = 84 intervention) in addition to a generic NICU care booklet or (2) the generic NICU care booklet alone (n = 85 control). The primary outcome was postintervention Parent Stressor Scale: NICU (PSS:NICU) scores. Secondary outcomes included parent attitudes about infant pain, nursing pain assessment, and parenting competence and role attainment after discharge.

RESULTS:

No differences were found between groups in PSS:NICU scores. Significant differences favoring the intervention group were found for satisfaction with pain information, parents shown infant pain cues and comforting techniques, nursing pain assessment, and parent preference for involvement during painful procedures. Role attainment after discharge was higher for the intervention group than for the control group. Both the intervention and control groups highly valued attention to infant pain and wanted information and involvement.

CONCLUSIONS:

These results provide no evidence of a reduction in NICU-related stress for parents who receive an intervention to increase their understanding and involvement in infant pain management. However, parents in the intervention group were better prepared to take an active role in infant pain care and had more positive views about their role attainment in the postdischarge period.

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