Journal of Perinatology (2015) 35, S29–S36. doi:10.1038/jp.2015.147

Recommendations for enhancing psychosocial support of NICU parents through staff education and support

S L Hall1, J Cross2, N W Selix3, C Patterson4, L Segre5, R Chuffo-Siewert6, P A Geller7 and M L Martin8

  1. 1Division of Neonatology, St John’s Regional Medical Center, Oxnard, CA, USA
  2. 2Department of Social Work, Widener University, Chester, PA, USA
  3. 3School of Nursing and Health Professions, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA
  4. 4Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, USA
  5. 5College of Nursing and Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA
  6. 6Department of Nursing, University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, Iowa City, IA, USA
  7. 7Departments of Psychology, Obstetrics/Gynecology and Public Health, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA
  8. 8Department of Nursing, McLeod Regional Medical Center, Florence, SC, USA

Correspondence: Dr SL Hall, Division of Neonatology, St John's Regional Medical Center, 1600 N. Rose Avenue, Oxnard, CA 93030, USA. E-mail:

Received 10 September 2015; Accepted 23 September 2015



Providing psychosocial support to parents whose infants are hospitalized in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can improve parents’ functioning as well as their relationships with their babies. Yet, few NICUs offer staff education that teaches optimal methods of communication with parents in distress. Limited staff education in how to best provide psychosocial support to families is one factor that may render those who work in the NICU at risk for burnout, compassion fatigue and secondary traumatic stress syndrome. Staff who develop burnout may have further reduced ability to provide effective support to parents and babies. Recommendations for providing NICU staff with education and support are discussed. The goal is to deliver care that exemplifies the belief that providing psychosocial care and support to the family is equal in importance to providing medical care and developmental support to the baby.