Examining the Relationship Between NICU-Parent Anxieites, their Perceptions of Neonatal Pain and Desire for Participation in Pain Care
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Background: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) patients undergo painful procedures that if undertreated impact their recovery and development. Evidence based practice, suggests parent participation in neonatal care, which may improve pain management. Anxiety, a common emotion for NICU-parents, may affect their involvement. Research demonstrates that one’s intrapersonal characteristics may impact the assessment and response to another’s pain. Methods: A descriptive correlational study examined the degree/type of anxiety (i.e., state, trait, NICU and pain anxiety) NICU-parents experienced; the relationship of these anxieties to perceptions of procedural pain intensity, and desire for participation pain management. Results: Parents with higher levels of NICU-anxiety tended to expect/observe greater procedural pain intensity. Parental desire to participate in pain management was high and anxieties were not related to this desire. Conclusion: Parental anxieties were related to their expectations/observations of procedural pain intensity but they still desire involvement in pain management; thus, parental participation should be encouraged.