The Parental Experience of Newborns With Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Across Inpatient Care Settings: A Qualitative Study.

Document Type


Publication Date



Pediatrics; Neurology and Neuroscience

Journal Title

J Addict Med

MeSH Headings

Humans, Infant, Newborn, Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, Inpatients, Qualitative Research, Parents, Hospitalization


OBJECTIVES: Understanding the experience of parents with newborns hospitalized with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) across all inpatient settings is important in optimizing their involvement as part of the care team. A descriptive qualitative study design was utilized to understand the parental experience and identify barriers to parent involvement in care of newborns with NAS care.

METHODS: Semistructured one-on-one interviews were conducted with parents of a convenience sample of fifteen infants admitted for NAS in the newborn nursery and level II/III neonatal intensive care unit within a tertiary care center in Northern New England. Interviews were analyzed using thematic content analysis.

RESULTS: Sixty percent of mothers were treated with buprenorphine during pregnancy, and 60% of infants required pharmacological treatment for NAS symptoms. The predominant themes of parental experience included preparation/education for hospitalization, communication with providers, NAS management, family resources, physical hospital environment, and maternal guilt.

CONCLUSION: The parental experience of care for NAS is negatively affected by lack of standardized NAS education in the prenatal and postnatal settings, inconsistent communication with providers, the Finnegan scoring system, lack of provider sensitivity to parental substance use disorder, and maternal guilt. This study also highlights the parental desire to be more involved in the care of newborns with NAS.