Prolonged travel time to neonatal intensive care unit does not affect content of parental visiting: A controlled prospective study

E. J. Callahan, W. S. Brasted, D. Z. Myerberg, S. Hamilton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

10 Scopus citations


Decreased local obstetric care appears to be increasing the rate of premature births to rural populations. With increased numbers of premature and complicated births in rural populations, understanding the impact of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) environment on the development of parent-child relationships becomes critical. NICU infants appear to be at increased risk for failure to thrive, child abuse, and neglect. Some reports suggest that the frequency of parental visits to the NICU can predict infants likely to be at risk. Because rural parents visiting infants hospitalized in urban centers are likely to vist less often, understanding this possible relationship is critical. In this controlled prospective study, three groups of parents were observed visiting their hospitalized infants: (1) those visiting ''in house'' while the mother was still hospitalized; (2) those whose visits required one hour or less in travel time; and (3) those whose visits required more than one hour in travel time. Results showed that travel time influenced the frequency of visits, with fewer visits from those living further from the NICU. However, those visiting from greater distances stayed with their infants longer so that there was no difference in the total visiting time over a two-week period. Direct observations of the visits by both mothers and fathers showed no differences in the content of parent-child interactions among groups. Thus, visit frequency alone must be viewed cautiously as a potential indicator of failure to bond with a hospitalized infant, especially in settings serving rural populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationJournal of Rural Health
Number of pages11
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nursing(all)
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Professions(all)


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