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October 1996

Attitudes About Sibling Visitation in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1996;150(10):1021-1026. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1996.02170350023003

Objective:  To survey the attitudes and recommendations of staff members before and after the implementation of sibling visitation in a neonatal intensive care unit.

Design:  Staff survey conducted before (1992) and after (1993) the implementation of sibling visitation.

Setting:  A perinatal tertiary care center.

Participants:  Staff members including physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers, and unit clerks (n=139 in 1992; n=120 in 1993).

Measurements and Main Results:  A 7-point Likert scale survey (1=strongly disagree; 7=strongly agree) was designed for the study. In both 1992 and 1993, the staff most strongly agreed that visitation requires special supervision, should have designated times, increases sibling knowledge, enhances sibling attachment to the baby, and increases family satisfaction. Wilcoxon rank sum tests comparing the staff across the 2 years indicated substantial attitudinal changes in favor of sibling visitation, including less perceived interference with nursing care and nursery routines (P<.01) and less concern about the infants' risk of respiratory infection and exposure to chickenpox (P<.05). There was greater attitudinal agreement between disciplines in 1993 than in 1992, suggesting better staff consensus about sibling visitation following its implementation. The recommended minimum age for visitation was 4.67 years and 4.05 years in 1992 and 1993, respectively. Brief visits of 10 to 15 minutes' duration were consistently recommended. Staff rated the sibling visitation program as successful (median=6) on a scale ranging from 1 (very poor) to 7 (very successful).

Conclusions:  Staff members have concerns about sibling visitation that include increased risk of infection, organization, and supervision. A sibling visitation program that addresses these concerns can be successfully implemented and supported by staff, thereby fostering family-centered care in the neonatal intensive care unit.Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1996;150:1021-1026