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Theme: Mental Health & Dementia
Parents of babies admitted to neonatal units experience an emotional journey for which they are ill-prepared. Feelings of helplessness, fear, sadness, guilt, grief and anger are common, and may persist long after discharge from the unit. These experiences can have negative effects on long-term outcomes.
Evidence has shown that support from peers with first-hand experience, who are therefore able to empathise with problems and challenges, is beneficial in many settings. However, the contribution of parent-to-parent (P2P) support within the neonatal context has not been fully explored.
The aim of this research project is to bring together all the evidence in relation to P2P support for families with babies cared for in neonatal care in a systematic review. From this synthesis, the team will aim to provide a state-of-the-evidence summary to support the NHS and other stakeholders. It is hoped that this will inform practice in the neonatal context for the benefit of families and inform future research.
1. To bring together studies which have explored the experience of P2P support from the perspective of the persons giving and receiving peer support.
2. To determine the key characteristics, components and processes that should be included in P2P support for parents of babies cared for in neonatal care settings, whilst on the unit and after discharge home.
3. Where adequate data is available, to determine the effectiveness of P2P support interventions on the health and well-being of parents and their premature babies.
4. To arrange a one-day impact conference with representatives from neonatal units, national neonatal networks, commissioners of services and parents with experience of neonatal unit life to discuss what the findings mean for clinical practice and service provision.
The project will conduct a thorough and systematic search for published and unpublished research studies using academic databases, speaking to clinicians, researchers and parents, and by looking at websites of relevant organisations.
There will also be a one-day impact conference held with representatives from neonatal units, national neonatal networks, commissioners of services and parents with experience of neonatal unit life to discuss what the findings of the review mean for clinical practice and service provision.
The research will be carried out in partnership with a study-specific Parent Advisory Group (PAG) comprised of parents who have experience of having a baby cared for on a neonatal unit. The group will include parents with varying experiences e.g. babies of differing gestational ages, health care needs and family circumstances, experience of level 1,2 and 3 neonatal units, and differing long-term outcomes.
Overall, the project aims to provide a state-of-the-evidence summary to support the NHS and other stakeholders, to inform practice in the neonatal context for the benefit of families, and to inform future research. Ultimately, the team will bring together local and national neonatal representatives to discuss the findings of this review, to ensure this this work has an impact on services.
Mrs Leanna Wakely – Patient/Public Co-Applicant.
Mrs Susan Prosser – Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust.
Dr Andrew Collinson – Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust.
Prof Jenny Kurinczuk - National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford.