A Qualitative Study of Nurses' Perspectives on Neonatologist Continuity of Care

Kerri Z. Machut*, Christie Gilbart, Karna Murthy, Kelly N. Michelson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Families and staff in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) value continuity of care (COC), though definitions, delivery, and impacts of COC are incompletely described. Previously, we used parental perspectives to define and build a conceptual model of COC provided by neonatologists. Nursing perspectives about COC remain unclear. Purpose: To describe nursing perspectives on neonatologist COC and revise our conceptual model with neonatal nurse input. Methods: This was a qualitative study interviewing NICU nurses. The investigators analyzed transcripts with directed content analysis guided by an existing framework of neonatologist COC. Codes were categorized according to previously described COC components, impact on infants and families, and improvements for neonatologist COC. New codes were identified, including impact on nurses, and codes were classified into themes. Results: From 15 nurses, 5 themes emerged: (1) nurses validated parental definitions and benefits of COC; (2) communication is nurses' most valued component of COC; (3) neonatologist COC impact on nurses; (4) factors that modulate the delivery of and need for COC; (5) conflict between the need for COC and the need for change. Suggested improvement strategies included optimizing staffing and transition processes, utilizing clinical guidelines, and enhancing communication at all levels. Our adapted conceptual model describes variables associated with COC. Implications for Practice and Research: Interdisciplinary NICU teams need to develop systematic strategies tailored to their unit's and patients' needs that promote COC, focused to improve parent-clinician communication and among clinicians. Our conceptual model can help future investigators develop targeted interventions to improve COC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-477
Number of pages11
JournalAdvances in Neonatal Care
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2023


  • continuity of patient care
  • delivery of healthcare
  • infant
  • intensive care neonatal
  • neonatologists
  • newborn
  • nurses
  • physician-patient relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


Dive into the research topics of 'A Qualitative Study of Nurses' Perspectives on Neonatologist Continuity of Care'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this