Experiences of Fathers with Inpatient Premature Neonates: Phenomenological Interpretative Analysis

Tahmineh Dadkhahtehrani, Narges Eskandari, Zohre Khalajinia, Hoda Ahmari-Tehran


Background: Birth and hospitalization of premature neonates create enormous challenges for the family with serious impacts on parents’ mental and emotional health. The present study was designed to explore the experiences of fathers with premature neonates hospitalized in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Materials and Methods: In this interpretative phenomenological study, data were collected using in‑depth interviews guided with a semi‑structured questionnaire and analyzed by interpretative phenomenological analysis. Totally seven interviews were conducted with six participants.

Results: The mean age of the fathers was 32 (23–42) years, and all of the fathers lived with their wives. Experiences of the fathers were categorized into 13 subordinate and three superordinate themes: “abandonment and helplessness” (lack of financial support, lack of informational support, and indignation and distrust toward the hospital staffs); “anxiety and confusion” (family disruption, shock due to the premature birth of the neonate, uncertainty, the loss of wishes, feeling of guilt and blame, and occupational disruption); and “development and self‑actualization” (emotional development, spiritual development, independence and self‑efficacy, and responsibility).

Conclusions: The present study showed that the fathers with premature neonates hospitalized in NICU encounter both positive (development and self‑actualization) and negative experiences (lack of financial and informational supports, distrusting toward the hospital staffs, family disruption, and occupational disruption). Planning to manage adverse experiences can help fathers to cope with this situation.


Fathers, infant, intensive care units, Iran, newborn, parenting, premature, preterm infants, qualitative research

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