Communication with parents in neonatal intensive care

Marcello Orzalesi, Lucia Aite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The psycho-relational problems in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) are complex and multifaceted and have only recently been properly addressed. Some specific factors make communication in NICU particularly problematic; the baby's clinical condition, the emotional and working conditions of the medical staff, the emotional state of the parents and the setting of the NICU and the interaction of multiple professional figures with the parents. The purpose of communication in NICUs is not only to inform parents of their child's clinical condition; the medical and nursing staff must also educate and guide parents so that they can actively participate in caring for their child and become true "partners" with the medical team in the decision-making process. Furthermore, the staff must also use their communication skills to understand and contain the anxieties and emotions of parents, supporting and comforting them through the most critical moments of their child's illness and possibly even bereavement. Given the number and complexity of the interpersonal exchanges that take place in the NICU, the risk of misunderstanding, misinterpretation and conflict is high. One could say that the interpersonal aspect is an area where the risk of iatrogenesis is elevated. It is recognized that poor staff-family interactions not only reflect negatively on the baby's care and are a source of distress and discontent for the parents, but are also a major cause of medico-legal litigation and increase the incidence of "burnout". Therefore, specific training of the staff in communication is essential if the optimal results, obtained through modern technology, are not to be invalidated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-137
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • Communication
  • Neonatal intensive care
  • Parents in NICU
  • Problems
  • Relational

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology


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