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The importance of shared decision-making in the neonatal intensive care unit



Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admissions are common and rising. Parents with infants in the NICU face difficult decisions about their infants’ care. Few studies have investigated parents’ engagement in NICU decisions and its effects on decision regret.

Study design

We surveyed parents of children who had a NICU stay in the past 3 years. We explored whether sociodemographic characteristics affected preferred decision involvement, shared decision-making with NICU clinicians, or decision regret. Multivariable linear regression analyses examined the relationship between shared decision-making and decision regret.


Most parents preferred an active (212/405, 52.3%) or shared (139/405, 34.3%) approach to decision-making. No sociodemographic characteristics related to preferred decision involvement or shared decision-making (p’s > 0.05). In multivariable analyses, shared decision-making, education and health literacy related to less decision regret (p’s < 0.05).


These data suggest the importance of shared decision-making during NICU stays. Studies should identify ways to support parents through NICU decision-making.

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The authors would like to thank the division of newborn medicine for financially supporting payment of participants. We would also like to thank Barbara Warner, MD for her input on this study.

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Correspondence to Frank Soltys.

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Soltys, F., Philpott-Streiff, S.E., Fuzzell, L. et al. The importance of shared decision-making in the neonatal intensive care unit. J Perinatol 40, 504–509 (2020).

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