The knowledge and learning needs of health professionals in providing support for parents of premature babies at home: A mixed-methods study
Elliott, Professor Doug
Premature babies and their families often require on-going community-based care after discharge from the neonatal unit. Parents themselves have identified the need for health professionals to understand the specific needs of parents of premature babies in order to provide the optimal support they require. This study aimed to explore the existing knowledge base and learning needs of community health professionals, to further understand how they can adequately support parents in the community with premature babies. A mixed-methods approach was used comprising a questionnaire, semi-structured interviews and secondary data analysis. Participants included thirteen Health Visitor [HV] students, eight educators and seven parents from a previous study. Thematic analysis revealed important insights into the knowledge and learning needs necessary to support parents of premature babies in the community. Three main themes emerged: development of prior knowledge; the importance of practice-based learning; learning and training needs. Knowledge, confidence and skills in relation to caring for parents with premature babies varied between individuals depending on their placement during training and subsequent experiences. While transferable skills in supporting parents in the community were present, more education and training in the specific needs of premature babies and parents would be welcomed. Tailored resources for community-based health professionals on the specific needs of the premature baby would enhance provision of optimal support for parents.