Date of Completion

Spring 5-1-2008

Thesis Advisor(s)

Regina Cusson

Honors Major



Medicine and Health Sciences | Nursing | Public Health and Community Nursing


The March of Dimes NICU Family Support Program provides families with support specialists, educational materials, and community resources to aide in the emotional and physical adaptation to a new life with a premature infant. Parent-to-parent support has been shown to more effective than group support because the new NICU parent is able to connect on a more personal level with an experienced NICU parent.

The purpose of the research was to develop and implement an evaluation instrument to assess the effectiveness of the March of Dimes NICU Family Support Program (MODFSP) in the NICU at the UConn Health Center, specifically parent-to-parent support. Steps involved in the process included determining areas of focus for the instrument, developing items based on MODFSP materials and literature review, piloting the materials on parents with infants in the NICU (with IRB approval), and utilizing descriptive statistics through SPSS Version 14 to assess the results from the instrument content. Qualitative items were also included in the evaluation, and descriptive qualitative methods, as appropriate, were used to analyze those items.

The findings have supported the literature in that all parents that participated in parent to parent support agreed the program was beneficial in assisting them with their transition to life with a premature infant. In addition to evaluating the new NICU parent’s opinions of the program, researchers evaluated the staff and volunteer parents that were involved in the program. The results also revealed that the new NICU parent’s fear, anxiety, and stress decreased after the parent-to-parent interactions. The preliminary results were encouraging that the MODFSP has implemented an effective parent-to-parent support program to support parents through their time of crisis.