To build fathers’ confidence in NICUs, nurses need to inform them about medical practices and the baby’s prognosis (South Korea)

fathers in NICU

A questionnaire survey of 160 fathers in South Korea, who had babies on a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for 48 hours or more, found four factors that correlate with fathers being more confident in their role. The factors were:

  • Not experiencing high stress from the sights and sounds of the NICU
  • Being more informed about the baby’s prognosis
  • Having faith in the medical staff
  • Having more family members (4 or more) and having older children

These factors together accounted for 19% of the variance in level of confidence reported by the fathers.

The issue causing the most stress to fathers was around their relationship to the infant and their paternal role. Second to this, were issues relating to the appearance and behaviour of their baby. Third, were the sights and sounds of the NICU.

The fathers generally reported high support from health professionals and from their spouses.

On the basis of these findings, the researchers recommend that nurses should understand paternal stress and should actively provide support to fathers to cope with it, in particular, explaining the NICU and the medical practices used for the babies. Also nurses should inform fathers about the prognosis for their babies. The researchers recommend developing nursing intervention strategies to ensure delivery of such support.

In Korea, high risk babies are commonly treated with highly sophisticated medical treatments. The babies are often separated from their parents.


Eom JE & Im YJ (2019), The relationship between stress, social support, and confidence in paternal role perceived by Korean fathers of high risk infants, Journal of Pediatric Nursing 49

Header photo: Ivodman. Creative Commons.