Attitudes of mothers and staff towards treatment and possible outcomes of very low-birth-weight (VLBW) infants in Bloemfontein
Design. A comparative cohort study comprising separate groups.
Setting. Neonatal units of Universitas Academic and Pelonomi Regional hospitals.
Subjects. Mothers of very low-birth-weight (VLBW) babies and children with multiple disabilities; paediatricians (including registrars) and nurses working in these units.
Outcome measures. The preferences for developmental outcomes were compared between four groups: nurses, paediatricians, mothers of VLBW infants, and mothers of babies with multiple disabilities. Different scenarios were illustrated, and questionnaires were used to obtain the opinions on active treatment for babies with a poor developmental outcome.
Results. When asked whether doctors should attempt to save premature babies, even with a more than 50% chance of being handicapped, 100% of mothers agreed, as opposed to 23% of paediatricians. Similar results were obtained when respondents were asked whether they would prefer to have a severely handicapped child rather than no children at all. Seventy per cent of mothers of VLBW babies indicated that parents are the most important stakeholders in NICU decision making.
Conclusions. Doctors may underestimate mothers’ capacity to cope with handicapped children. The opinion and perspectives of mothers are therefore important factors in NICU decision making.
David J Griessel, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein
Gina Joubert, Department of Biostatistics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein
Mohale Setlaba, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein
Orapeleng Seboco, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein
Lloyd Chokoe, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein
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Date published: 2012-05-25
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