The impact of a father's presence during newborn resuscitation: a qualitative interview study with healthcare professionals

Merryl Harvey, Helen Pattison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To explore healthcare professionals’ experiences around the time of newborn resuscitation in the delivery room, when the baby’s father was present.
Design: A qualitative descriptive, retrospective design using the critical incident approach. Tape-recorded semistructured interviews were undertaken with
healthcare professionals involved in newborn resuscitation. Participants recalled resuscitation events when the baby’s father was present. They described what happened and how those present, including the father, responded. They also reflected upon the impact of the resuscitation and the father’s presence on themselves. Participant responses were analysed using thematic analysis.
Setting: A large teaching hospital in the UK.
Participants: Purposive sampling was utilised. It was anticipated that 35–40 participants would be recruited. Forty-nine potential participants were invited to take part. The final sample consisted of 37 participants including midwives, obstetricians, anaesthetists, neonatal nurse practitioners, neonatal nurses and paediatricians.
Results: Four themes were identified: ‘whose role?’ ‘saying and doing’ ‘teamwork’ and ‘impact on me’. While no-one was delegated to support the father during the resuscitation, midwives and anaesthetists most commonly took on this role. Participants felt the midwife was the most appropriate person to support fathers. All healthcare professional groups said they often did not know what to say to fathers during prolonged resuscitation. Teamwork was felt to be of benefit to all concerned, including the father. Some paediatricians described their discomfort when fathers came to the resuscitaire. None of the participants had received education and training specifically on supporting fathers during newborn resuscitation.
Conclusions: This is the first known study to specifically explore the experiences of healthcare professionals of the father’s presence during newborn resuscitation. The findings suggest the need for more focused training about supporting fathers. There is also scope for service providers to consider ways in which fathers can be supported more readily during newborn resuscitation.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere002547
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2013

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