Child development education in the Neonatal Unit: Understanding parent developmental literacy needs, priorities and preferences

Megan L. Bater, Jacqueline F. Gould, Carmel T. Collins, Peter J. Anderson, Michael J. Stark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To describe child development knowledge needs, priorities, and preferences for education to enhance developmental literacy among parents with children admitted to the neonatal unit (NNU). Methods: Two separate cohorts completed a survey; 1) Parents with children graduated from Australian NNUs (n = 316); 2) Parents with infants’ inpatient at two South Australian NNUs (n = 209). Results: Parents considered it extremely important to understand child development (Graduates: 80%; Inpatients: 71%). Inpatient parents reported lower child development knowledge. Almost half (42%) of graduate parents described the child development education provided by neonatal staff as poor or inadequate. There was consistency in preferences for developmental literacy education provision. Parents desired education to commence during NNU and continue post discharge. Priorities included content specific to preterm birth and how to support child development over the first two years of life. Individualised education by a Neonatal Nurse/Midwife was most preferred. Conclusion: Mothers and fathers value guidance to support their child's development during NNU admission and early childhood. Our study highlights the importance of improved early developmental literacy education for parents with children admitted to the neonatal unit. Practice implications: Our findings can be used to inform the creation of future educational resources targeting improved parent developmental literacy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108058
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Feb 2024


  • Child development
  • Father
  • Health literacy
  • Neonatal intensive care
  • Parent education
  • Preterm birth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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