Objective: To test whether parents of premature infants less than 37 weeks of gestation provided with a unique smartphone app designed to support parents had greater parenting self-efficacy, a key element in parenting confidence, compared with controls. Study design: Using a quasiexperimental, time-lagged study design, parents were assigned to either usual care (control) or NICU2HOME app (intervention) groups. Both groups completed the validated Parenting Sense of Competence (PSOC) scale at 4 time points (approximately day of life 7, 1 day before discharge, and at 14 and 30 days after discharge) representing the neonatal intensive care unit, discharge, and home contexts. App use was described and categorized. Univariate group differences were assessed, and linear mixed effect regression models were used to assess treatment group effect on PSOC score across time, adjusted for covariates and controlling for overall family effect. Results: We enrolled 298 parents (123 control, 175 intervention) with 256 completing 1 or more PSOC screenings. The intervention group had sustained higher PSOC scores than those of the control group (estimate, 4.3; P = .0042) from the first measurement onward with no significant change in PSOC score across time for either group. Average app use was 15 taps per average day; average and above-average users had significantly higher PSOC scores (estimate, 5.16; P = .0024; estimate, 5.16; P = .014) compared with controls or below-average users. Conclusions: Compared with controls, parents assigned to use the NICU2HOME app reported greater parenting self-efficacy while in the neonatal intensive care unit and this continued once discharged to home. Novel technologies such as point-of-care smartphone applications may hold promise for supporting parents in difficult and stressful situations. Trial Registration: ClincalTrials.gov: NCT03505424.
- parental self-efficacy
- preterm infants
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health